Blount football officials tackle childhood cancer

Referees of the Blount County Football Officials Association are taking on a new opponent - childhood cancer.

Don Talbott with the association said that the members are raising funds to support the Butterfly Fund. “We decided that referees are seen sometimes only as bad guys, and we wanted to do community service to put us in a more positive light,” he said. “Childhood cancer as something we would like to fight, especially since we work with kids in refereeing. Specifically, we are going to support the Butterfly Fund.”

Talbott said the Butterfly Fund supports research, treatment and services dedicated to the defeat of childhood cancers. “They do that through East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and the National Childhood Cancer Foundation.”

The families of Emily Barger and Maddie Harrill established the Butterfly Fund at the East Tennessee Foundation in memory of their daughters. Both little girls were diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of childhood cancer, in 2007, and both passed away just weeks apart during the summer of 2008.

Talbott said the girls’ fathers, Brian Barger and James Harrill, played football together at Madisonville High School and got reacquainted when their daughters got sick with the same type of cancer.

“We looked at some different charities, and we got their name and met with them,” Talbot said. “It was exactly what we were looking for.”

Talbott said the plan is for the referees to take up money at the gates during the upcoming football jamborees.

“There’s the freshman jamboree at Alcoa High School Thursday (Aug. 11), the two high school jamborees at Loudon and Alcoa on Friday (Aug. 12) and the middle school jamboree and midget and peewee jamborees on Saturday (Aug. 13),” he said. “We will set up a tent and take up money as people enter and also make an announcement.”

Talbott said the month of September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. “In September, we’ll have emphasis on childhood cancer at the high school games and the officials will donate some portion of their game checks to that cause in that month,” he said. “We also are wearing black wristbands with the gold childhood cancer awareness ribbon and we’ll be giving out gold ribbons to those making donations.”

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