By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
The West Point Quarterback Club was just trying to make a little extra money during a draw-down fundraiser this past December.
The amount it ended up pocketing, however, was more than it could’ve ever imagined.
Tickets were sold for $100 apiece, with the Warriors planning to give away a whopping $10,000 to the owner of the last one pulled. But when the single ticket Eckenrod Ford had purchased was revealed as the big winner, the local business called an audible, donating the entire five-figure sum back to the West Point Quarterback Club.
Eckenrod Ford’s Wade Bentley said the dealership never considered any other option.
“It’s tough. Business isn’t that good, and I could’ve used the money,” the co-owner and general manager said with a chuckle. “But we just decided it was the right thing to do in the long run.”
After factoring in the money made from the 275 total tickets sold, as well as the cost of the dinner and gobs of door prizes handed out, A.J. Lamar couldn’t quite put a number on the funds raised for his team. All the Warrior football coach knew was the final amount was “$10,000 more than I thought we would make.”
“Since I’ve been here, this has never happened,” Lamar said of the hefty gift. “It’s just something that’s going to help us down the road, whether it’s field maintenance, weight room maintenance, whatever. That’s just money you didn’t anticipate having, and $10,000 at any school system right now is tremendous.”
The donation allowed Lamar to charter a bus and take his squad to the Music City Bowl in Nashville on New Year’s Eve. Some of it will also be used for West Point’s returning players to attend, and most importantly, be fed at an overnight team camp in Hueytown.
As a soon-to-be senior, Zack Tilley was extremely grateful for the additional opportunities he’ll be presented with during his last football season with the Warriors.
“It’s good for us knowing that people around the community care and want to give back to us,” Tilley said of the local dealership.
Three years ago, Eckenrod Ford helped raise money for almost all of the schools in Cullman County through its “Drive One for School” fundraiser. The program netted $6,000 for West Point, which is also furnished with Mustangs for its homecoming court each year by the dealership right down the road.
“They’re close,” Bentley said of the Warrior campus. “We’ve got family members and several employees who went to school there, and their children are out there now. We try to help out all the schools.”
West Point recently wrapped up its spring practice session and will enter the summer and fall trying to improve on a 3-7 record in 2012, the Warriors’ first year back in a brutal Class 5A, Region 8 since 2007.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.