For the past several years, Bartlett's girls basketball program has hosted an annual Kay Yow Cancer Fund Pink Out event.
While that event has been successful in supporting breast cancer research, a different worthy cause, one with some very personal ties to the Bartlett High School community, will be the benefactor of this year's event. Actually, it's two other worthy causes, the Wounded Warrior Project and TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors).
All it took was a lunch over summer for Bartlett coach Denise Sarna and her former assistant, Pat Arnet, to start thinking about something that would support military families.
"The real driving force came when Pat and I had lunch with Samantha Prang, a former player and manager of ours," Sarna said. "Samantha had joined the Army and she was being deployed to Afghanistan for a year and Pat and I talked about how it would be nice to do something to support military families. We've had a lot of military families in our community over the years and we though it would be nice to do something to support a different group."
The military's presence within the Bartlett community runs deep, and tragic as well. Bartlett graduates Lenny Gulczynski and Matt Martinek each gave their lives serving their country. Ally Giampapa, a current junior on the Hawks' varsity, has two brothers in the service and former guard Janessa Baker's brother is in the military, among others.
A multitude of events are planned for the Hawks' Hometown Heroes game against South Elgin on Jan. 19. Varsity game time is 2:30 p.m. but there will be raffles and other events throughout the day. Sarna said an American flag the length of the basketball court will be rolled out for the national anthem, and there's a possibility the Illinois Traveling Memorial Wall will make an appearance.
Additionally Sarna and event directors Marsha Vanek and Ken Pavell are seeking alumni and/or friends and family from both Bartlett and South Elgin high schools who are currently enlisted or are veterans of the Armed Forces to be recognized at the game. The committee is also soliciting both corporate and individual sponsorships, donations and raffle prizes for the event. Sarna said radio station US99 has made some donations and one raffle prize will be a Ryan Dempster autographed baseball. There will also be a shooting contest at halftime in which one luck fan will have a chance to make a shot from three-quarters court for $5,000. T-shirts will be sold as well.
"We'll have a lot going on," Sarna said. "South Elgin has sent us some names and we really want to try to make contact with as many servicemen and women and their families to come out and be recognized. I just hope we get a good turnout and can honor all those people who have served our country. It's really exciting and we're looking forward to it."
For further information in supporting the event, contact Vanek at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (630) 372-4700, ext. 4611, or Pavell at email@example.com or (630) 452-3659.