Fundraiser set for sports and recreation organizations

Big Sports Gig: Administrators hope to raise at least $10,000 for scholarship fund

of the GatewayMarch 19, 2014 

The Gig Harbor Boys & Girls Club will host The Big Sports Gig, an event focused on raising money for youth sports and recreation programs in the area. The event will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday.

Event administrators, who include the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation, in collaboration with the YMCA, Peninsula Athletic Association and the Peninsula Metropolitan Parks District, hope to raise $10,000.

Former Seattle Mariners pitcher Brian Holman, former Seattle Sounders FC forward Roger Levesque, and Alan Anderson, the founder and head coach of the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team, are scheduled to make appearances.

“The foundation, about a year and a half ago, did community visioning workshops, and recreation core area was one of five core areas of need,” said Dr. Julie Gustanski, president of the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation.

The funds raised will be used to set up a universal grant scholarship fund. Sports and recreation organizations will then be able to apply for grants based on need.

The foundation’s Recreation Core Board will oversee the grant application process, and all appeals will go to the board of directors for approval.

Todd Iverson, a PenMet Parks commissioner who is the event chair, said he’s talked about the idea for several years with PAA Director Sandra Kern and PenMet Parks Recreation Manager Gretchen Hayes.

“Once PenMet started some recreational programming, we became more aware of the need for a scholarship fund for Gig Harbor and the Key peninsulas,” Iverson said.

Many Peninsula School Districts students come from families below the poverty line and receive free or reduced lunches. Costly youth athletics programs are another expense, and some families can’t afford them.

“All kids deserve that opportunity,” Iverson said. “There’s a lot of pockets of poverty on the peninsulas. Basically, it costs $50,000 to incarcerate somebody. We, as a society, can keep kids engaged so maybe they don’t go down that road. Sports keep those kids busy.”

Most of the money will be raised during various silent auctions on Saturday. Autographed Seattle Mariners tickets, baseballs and bats will be auctioned, as well as Sounders tickets, signed soccer balls and even some Seattle Seahawks memorabilia. Various golf outings and resort packages will be auctioned off as well.

Iverson said the auctions are sports-focused, but organizers wanted to offer a diverse range of options.

“There should be something for everyone,” he said.

Tickets to the event are $50 for a single, $90 for a couple, and $400 for sponsorship of a team table. Tickets are still available by calling the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation at 253-514-6338. They can also be purchased online through Brown Paper Tickets at thebigsportsgig.bpt.me.

“I think it’s just a great opportunity for our community to come together,” Iverson said. “Brian Holman, our keynote speaker, I think those that show up, his message will really resonate with everyone. We’re hoping this starts a great tradition in our community of doing this.”

Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at jon.manley@gateline.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.

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