Organizers combined a field of assorted activities with an important message last Saturday for the second annual W82TXT Gage Edwards Football Fest.
A 17-year-old East Surry High School junior, Gage Edwards lost his life in February of 2015 after a Jan. 31 single-car accident. It was later determined he had been texting while behind the wheel.
Volunteers set up games and activities across the East Surry practice field, with many of them reflecting Edwards’ passion for sports. The Pinnacle resident had been an all-conference player on East Surry’s football team. A dunking booth manned by area youth sports coaches and Edwards’ friends proved popular throughout the day.
A modest fee was charged for participation, allowing funds to be raised for the Gage Edwards Memorial Scholarship. According to Nikki Cline, Gage Edwards’ mother and, with her husband, Mike, a primary organizer of the day, the scholarship has been established to honor her son’s spirit and passion for life, school, sports and community. Additional scholarship information is available through the school.
Another popular attraction was a distracted driving course, with East Surry High School and the Surry County Sheriff’s Office providing a golf cart which students navigated through cones while texting or wearing “fatal vison” googles intended to replicate driving while drinking. Under the supervision of East Surry Resource Officer Randy Simpson, students were invited to see the difficulties of the simple course while distracted or impaired driving.
“We’re trying to reach pre-age drivers to show them the consequences of driving while distracted or drinking and driving,” Simpson said. “A lot of parents are coming over to encourage, support and thank us. And the kids are like ‘Wow, is this really what it’s like?”
East Surry junior Katlyn Creed was among several students and former students who served as volunteers for the day.
“Gage was close to me and my family,” she noted. “We want people to remember Gage and all the fun stuff he did. He was a fun person. We want people to know that distracted driving isn’t worth your life.”
“Thank you isn’t enough for everyone who has been a part of this,” Nikki Cline said. “It’s been amazing. We’ve had a great day and a great turnout. We couldn’t have pulled this off without our volunteers and sponsors. We feel very blessed. Pilot Mountain is a great place to live.”