Community comes together to cheer on their Patriots

Fredbird hands the ball to Patriots player Robbie Small and points toward the hoop during a scrimmage against the CMS eighth graders Monday night. Small eventually scored for the Patriots, drawing a huge cheer from the crowd. (Corey Saathoff photos)

The previously undefeated Columbia Middle School eighth grade boys basketball team — 35-0 over two seasons — gladly suffered defeat at the hands of faculty and the Monroe County Patriots in front of a packed house Monday night at CMS.

It was all for a very worthwhile cause, after all.

“What an awesome night,” CMS eighth grade basketball coach Jon Wehrenberg said.

An annual tradition at CMS, the eighth grade boys and girls teams played against faculty, with all gate receipts and concession sales going toward the Patriots Special Olympics program.

The CMS eighth grade boys team and coach Jon Wehrenberg join Monroe County Patriots athletes, Patriots athletic director Carly Magee and Fredbird after the game.

The faculty defeated the boys in a close contest. A total of $675 was raised during the evening.

This year, Wehrenberg and his team thought it would be a good idea to have the Patriots participate in the fun community event as well.

Throw in popular St. Louis Cardinals mascot Fredbird and a special check presentation, and the night was a huge success.

Waterloo Police Officer Dave Midkiff and his wife, Jen, owners of Ms. Middy’s Salon & Tan in Waterloo, presented the Patriots with a $2,000 check, representing proceeds from a recent kickball tournament sponsored by the salon and the Monroe County Fraternal Order of Police.

The highlight of the night came during a Patriots vs. CMS scrimmage. The crowed roared when Patriots player Zach Dailey drilled a three-pointer. The cheers grew louder when Fredbird aided wheelchair-bound Patriots player Robbie Small in making a basket.

The final score was 19-0 Patriots, but everyone went home a winner.

“When sports is done right, it is the greatest teaching tool of life we can give kids.  It meant a lot to my boys to be able to culminate the season by giving one last time to the special needs kids they had been working with all season,” Wehrenberg said.

Carly Magee, athletic director of the Patriots, helped organize the event. Her son, Gabe, is a member of the team.

“It was an amazing effort from so many wonderful people,” she said. “We are so very thankful. The money can be used to buy uniforms, equipment, facility rental, and stipends for travel expenses for Special Olympics state competitors.”

Magee said her Patriots players loved hearing the roar of the crowd during the game.

“They were so excited! The cheers of the crowd and Fredbird gave them the ability to soar,” she said. “I do not think I have ever seen them play basketball so well. I am sure each of the athletes will remember this event for a long, long time.”

Magee said the Patriots have 28 active athletes, mostly school aged kids. The program rotates five different sports throughout the year: bocce, basketball, soccer, bowling and softball.

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