By JAIME STUDD
Recorder News Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- Having already successfully campaigned for the retention of fall and winter modified sports, members of the Fonda-Fultonville Booster Club have their sights set on doing the same for the district's spring athletics program.
This time, however, that challenge is greater, with both the junior varsity and varsity programs having joined modified sports as victims of the district's budgets crisis.
The club's efforts began in earnest, Sunday afternoon, with a bowl-a-thon at Kelly's Imperial Lanes in Amsterdam, where supporters gathered for an afternoon of bowling, with the proceeds from their admission helping to save the sports program.
The event also included a Chinese auction, a bake sale and a 50/50 raffle.
"We're doing whatever we can," said Booster Club President Missy Furman. "Bottle drives, bake sales ... every little bit helps."
Furman said the club would have to raise approximately $76,000 in order for the school to run spring sports, a nearly impossible task.
The group has not lost hope, however, that district officials will find a way to reinstate at least a portion of its cuts.
"I know they're looking at options," Furman said. "We're just waiting to find out what, exactly."
Ideally, Furman said, the district will find a way to fund its varsity and junior varsity programs, leaving the Booster Club with the much more realistic goal of only having to raise $16,300 for the spring modified sports.
"I just can't imagine not having sports," Furman said. "What are the kids going to do?"
Furman said she hoped to raise $5,000 on Sunday, after having sent out more than 1,500 flyers advertising the event.
Additional fundraising efforts being planned by the club this year, include a comedy show, a father/daughter dance and a car raffle.
Manning the bake sale and raffle tables on Sunday were the dedicated members of the booster club who, Furman said, have worked tirelessly over the course of the year on behalf of the children. Its members, however, also credit school officials with having played a critical role in the organization's success this year.
"All of this stuff that we do wouldn't be possible if it weren't for all the help we get from the school and the staff at the school," booster club member Vic Suchocki said, calling special attention to the work of F-F athletic director Eric Wilson and varsity football head coach Tom Carpenter.
"Without those people, we'd all kind of be lost," Suchocki added.
Suchocki also credited the efforts of some of the modified players themselves, who, he said, volunteer at every single fundraising event.
For the kids, there are few words to describe exactly what having the opportunity to play really means.
"It makes school a lot more fun," said Alec Mahon, adding that he'd likely be spending this spring playing video games or on a traveling team unaffiliated with the district if the modified baseball program goes unfunded.
None of the players, however, found either of those options very appealing.
"The kids in Fonda aren't just playing a sport," Suchocki explained. "They take pride in the fact that they're wearing a uniform that says 'Braves.'"
By the end of the month, Furman said she hopes to have a better idea just how many teams the booster club will have to save this spring.