The Aurora (Ore.) North Marion High school district is in the midst of a budget crunch, so they certainly didn’t have the funds needed to ramp up its stock of football helmets. That was a big problem for the North Marion football team, which didn’t have enough safe helmets to complete a full set.
While bemoaning this shortage of safe equipment, North Marion coach Doug Bilodeau joked that he was so desperate for new gear for his team that he would stand alongside a highway with a sign that reads “Will work for new helmets.” His daughter thought the idea was so funny that she actually made the sign, and Bilodeau was so touched by that gesture that he, in turn, took the sign out to the street and took a photo with it.
The now famed “Will Work for Helmets” photo landed on Facebook, and that in turn started what may be the most unusual fundraising drive for sports equipment in history. As reported by the Oregonian and Portland TV network KATU, no sooner than the coach had posted the photo than he was inundated by both donations and, fittingly, work orders from those who wanted to contribute to the program.
Hey, he did say “Will work for helmets,” right?
So far, the manual labor chores have only amounted to raking leaves at a number of apartments in exchange for one landlord’s donation of the money for one helmet, but Bilodeau and his players will take on all tasks if it helps them get the money they need to field a new squad’s worth of helmets in 2013.
“If someone has a project, we’ll get a group of kids to go do it,” Bilodeau told the Oregonian. “‘Work for helmets’ isn’t just a slogan. We put it into practice."
The team has already raised enough funds for five new helmets, with a goal of 30 by August. While he had no idea how it would happen just a month ago, Bilodeau now sounds confident that the team can reach its fundraising goal.
“I’ve got to find a way. Collect cans if I have to. I don’t want a kid not playing football because we don’t have the helmets,” Bilodeau said.
If Facebook has anything to do with it, Bilodeau won’t face that gut wrenching dilemma, all thanks to a familial joke about just how desperate he was to get new gear for his players.
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