The Cincinnati Bengals and the National Football League Youth Football Fund teamed up to contribute $250,000 to the Oak Hills Boosters, topping off a fundraising effort that now has raised nearly $800,000. The grant announced by the Bengals and the NFL Youth Football Fund will help to install a new synthetic playing surface and scoreboard at Dennis Betz Stadium, located on the campus at Oak Hills High School.
GrahamShayne Graham, the Bengals record-setting kicker, joined team mascot "Who Dey" and Ben-Gals cheerleaders to present the Bengals/NFL check during an assembly at Oak Hills High. The assembly, hosted by Steve Raleigh, chief meteorologist at WCPO-TV, followed a format patterned after "Wheel Of Fortune," the popular television game show. Students and faculty revealed small pieces of the surprise until the final check presentation was completed.
"We are excited to be a part of such a wonderful project," said Katie Blackburn, Bengals executive vice president. "Our ability to give back to the community and support youth football in this area will bring great results both for the student athletes at Oak Hills and the entire Green Township area."
The project began in August of last year, when Jan Wilking, Oak Hills athletic director, formed an eight-member committee to privately raise money for a field for the 2008-09 season. This "Home Field Advantage" committee achieved stunning success, raising just over $530,000, and its hard work has been rewarded by the Bengals and the NFL, whose donation has put the total close to the $800,000 mark.
"We were hoping to raise about $600,000 for the new field," said Wilking. "Now, we have more than $780,000, and that will allow for even more improvements for this community-wide gift. I'm simply thrilled for the students and thankful to everyone that made it possible."
With the durability of the state-of-the-art turf, the field can be used by a number of organizations around the Green Township community, and by other school organizations besides the football team.
Jeff Brandt, Oak Hills principal, calls this "one of the most exciting things to happen to our school and community in quite some time."
About the NFL Youth Football Fund:
The NFL Youth Football Fund (YFF) is a non-profit foundation established by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to promote positive youth development, support the game at the youth level, and also ensure the health of grassroots football in future generations. Through the YFF, many youth football initiatives and support programs have been developed, providing youngsters with opportunities to learn the game of football, get physically fit and stay involved in productive after-school activities with adult mentors.