An event that raised about $12,000 for the Webb family last year is back again, this time to benefit a Columbia police officer and Immaculate Conception School toddler.
The event is “For the Love of Community,” which will feature games between the boys and girls eighth grade basketball teams from Columbia Middle School and Immaculate Conception School next Friday at Columbia High School.
Former Columbia teacher Jon Wehrenberg organized the event last year, which marked the first time the rivals had played in over 25 years, and decided to bring it back this year after seeing how well it went.
“We had a great crowd with a great atmosphere, and it just kind of fed into what I was hoping would happen – that we came together as one community to support a family in need,” Wehrenberg said.
This year’s event will benefit Jared Reddick of the Columbia Police Department and 3-year-old Logan Eichenseer.
Reddick was diagnosed with a malignant sarcoma in June and has been undergoing intensive chemotherapy treatments every couple of weeks since then.
Sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that occurs in the bones and soft tissues.
Reddick has been responding well to treatment, with scans showing he is progressing.
After the family gets the results of Jared’s upcoming 20-week scan, he will begin radiation treatment to more specific areas and continue with those until next summer.
Wehrenberg said Reddick was a natural choice to raise funds for.
“He’s a great police officer, a great servant to our community, and I think this is one way we pay those people back,” he said.
The Reddick family said they appreciate the support.
“We are absolutely humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude that we were chosen as a receiving family for this event,” said Megan Reddick, Jared’s wife and a second grade teacher in Columbia. “We always knew that Columbia was a special place, but it has been incredible to see the community rally in support for Jared and our family. It is through these acts of kindness that give us the courage to keep moving forward and staying positive.”
Eichenseer has Cri-du-chat syndrome, which affects one in every 20,000-50,000 newborns, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The condition is caused by the deletion of a piece of a chromosome, resulting in problems with language, walking, feeding, hyperactivity, scoliosis and intellectual disability.
ICS Principal Mike Kish said Logan does well on most of those fronts, but he cannot walk.
The syndrome has no known cure.
“All they can do is try to get therapy and different exercises,” Kish summarized.
That can be difficult, as Kish said Logan’s mother, Lauren, must go to Indiana to get trained on how to help her son and insurance does not cover those specialized treatments.
Logan also has a fraternal twin brother, Landon, who does not have Cri-du-chat syndrome, and an older sister named Kaylee.
Kish said the plan this year was to have a family from each school share in the money raised from the games, and the Eichenseers were his first choice.
ICS has already held fundraisers for the family, including one last year that raised about $2,000.
Similarly, the Reddicks have benefitted from other events, too, including a brat stop last Sunday.
Fellow CPD officers Andrew Krump and Michael Barnett organized that event, along with help from the BackStoppers of Monroe County and Columbia Volunteer Fire Department. Krump is also a fireman.
Larry Gardner of the local BackStoppers said the organization does not yet know how much money it raised, but it sold over 650 brats.
“We’re going to make a pretty penny,” Gardner said.
All proceeds from the brat stop will go to the Reddick family.
“What an awesome day for Jared and his family,” Columbia Assistant Fire Chief Jim Broshears said after the brat stop. “The community came out in force.”
At the “For the Love of Community” event, all money will also go toward the families.
Funds are raised through efforts including T-shirt sales, ticket sales, a raffle of a ball all four teams will sign and a Nov. 7 pep rally where members of the student body will cut their hair and donate to the cause.
T-shirt sales are already completed, but tickets can still be purchased by contacting CMS or ICS at 281-4993 or 281-5353, respectively.
The girls basketball game starts at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 8. A ceremony involving check presentations will then take place before the boys game tips off at 8 p.m.
Kish said attendance at events like this help both the beneficiaries and community.
“When the community reaches out like this, it’s huge,” he said. “It really helps the people, and it bonds us together.”
Those who would like to donate to Reddick but cannot attend can do so by sending a check to CMS and writing “Reddick fundraiser” on the envelope.
Individuals can also help the Reddick family by attending a mouse races event set for Jan. 11 at Turner Hall in Columbia.
See any Columbia police, fire or EMS member to purchase tickets for that event.