Nikki and Mike Cline will serve as hosts for a day of fun and fundraising this Saturday at the East Surry High School practice field with the second annual W82TXT Gage Edwards Football Fest.
Despite the fun nature of the event, at the heart of the festivities will be a serious message accompanied by the memory of a young man whose tragic passing has affected family, school and community.
Gage Edwards lost his life in February of 2015, after the 17-year-old East Surry High School junior had been involved in a Jan. 31 single-car accident. It was later determined he had been texting while behind the wheel. The Pinnacle resident had been an all-conference player on East Surry’s football team.
“We do this to help educate and to advocate against not just texting and driving but distracted driving,” explained Gage’s mother, Nikki Cline. “We pray that by continuing to go out into the community, it will help prevent another tragedy and that just maybe we will touch at least one person enough that they will put their phone away or ask someone else to put theirs away when they get in their car.”
“We all can feel like we’re invincible, but we’re not,” she continued. “And this isn’t just a message for kids but for adults as well.”
All community residents are invited to come out for the outdoor fall festival, to be held on the practice field located at the end of the school parking lot. The event will take place from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
A variety of games and activities will be featured throughout the day, with prizes available to be won. Admission cost is $2 and includes tickets for five games. Additional tickets may be purchased for ten cents each and admission for unlimited play, with the exception of the dunking booth, is available for $10.
Expected to be a favorite activity of the day, the dunking booth will be manned by a variety of local youth sports coaches. A schedule has been released, providing youths with an opportunity to plan to dunk their favorite coach.
Participating coaches include Jay Boaz (10 a.m. -10:20 a.m.), Ron Sutphin (10:25-10:45), Jennifer Sammons (10:50-11:10), Storm Livingston (11:15-11:35), Mike Cline (11:55-12:15 p.m.), Chad Riddle (12:20-12:40), Mark Slater (12:45-1:05), Jeremy Johnson (1:10-1:30), Adam Cardin (1:35-1:55), Jefferson Boaz (2 -2:20) and Shawn Creed (2:25-2:55).
Perhaps the most important activity of the day will be a golf cart texting and driving course, under the supervision of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office. Participants will have an opportunity to realize first-hand the subtle dangers of distracted driving. Information will also be available explaining the risks and often grim results of distracted driving.
The day will serve a dual purpose, with all funds raised going toward the Gage Edwards Memorial Scholarship. According to Cline, the scholarship was established to honor his spirit and passion for life, school, sports and community.
Essay style nominations for the scholarship will be accepted from coaches, teachers and students. All candidates must be an East Surry athlete, hold at least a 3.0 GPA and show the spirit of compassion for which Edwards was known.
A scholarship committee will evaluate the applications and select a single student each year. The scholarship recipient will receive $2,700, in recognition of the number 27 worn on Edwards’ football jersey. Additional scholarship information is available through the school.
Additional scholarship funds will be raised throughout the day by the sale of event T-shirts. Short-sleeve shirts will be available for $12 while long-sleeve shirts will be sold for $15, with all payments to be made by cash or checks.
Cline noted an outpouring of support in preparation for the day, with some 26 sponsors currently taking part along with numerous volunteers.
“We do this in remembrance of our son, wanting to be able to find a way to give back to the school and community that he loved so very much, as they do him,” Nikki Cline said of the day. “We’ve been very blessed with the help and support we’ve received and now we’re expecting a great day with lots of love as he is remembered.”