Team Gets Impromptu Support
A fervent plea by Head Coach Anthony Graham resulted in citizens and officials reaching for their checkbooks Monday to speed his winning team on to Orlando.
A very busy City Council meeting took an unusual turn after Councilman Elliott Simmons brought Graham to the table to explain the plight. The Plainfield Cardinals Midget Pop Warner team needs $15,000 by Monday for a trip to the national finals. The team is one of just two competing in the Eastern Regional finals and is the only one from New Jersey.
Graham said he was sure the team will win on Friday at the regional competition in Toms River. The national competition, the Pop Warner Super Bowl, will take place at Disney World and will later be televised on ESPN, he said.
“I’m here tonight asking the city to support these 22 gentlemen,” Graham said.
After Councilman Harold Gibson asked what it would take to get the team to Florida, Graham detailed a list of costs that added up to about $15,000. Councilwoman Linda Carter praised the team’s accomplishment, but added, “It’s a big bill.”
Simmons said the team has had “an exceptional season” and is celebrating its second year as New Jersey champions.
As the council pondered how to help without going into city coffers, Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs proposed a three-way split. After the community gives its share, she said, city officials and Assemblyman Jerry Green would contribute.
“We have to stand behind our young people,” she said.
People then started pledging. Resident Bill Hetfield promised $1,000 and Crescent Area activist Maria Pellum said she would give $250. Gibson, confidential aide Barbara James, resident Robert Wilson and new acting Finance Director A. Raiford Daniels all said they would give personal donations.
Finally, everyone agreed that checks made out to “Plainfield Pop Warner Cardinals” could be hand-delivered to the mayor’s office by 5 p.m. Wednesday. Robinson-Briggs pledged $3,000 from herself and another $3,000 from Green, who was not present. Percy Fennell, owner of the KFC restaurant, said he would contribute $1,000.
Anyone who wants to help can drop off a check at the mayor’s office in City Hall, 515 Watchung Ave.
The national championships will be played on Dec. 5 and Dec. 8.