Icing the Jets for a worthwhile cause

MORRISTOWN – A challenge has been issued.

Friday afternoon at sun-splashed Jets Stadium, teachers, administrators and at least one board of education member in the Union Local School District took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, raising, not only much-needed awareness to the disease, but nearly $1,300, as well.

“At our teachers meeting on Monday, the administration came up with the idea of doing something positive in the district,” middle school teacher Don Hustead explained. “They decided to do the ALS Challenge. That was on Monday and when I went home that night, I thought about how we donate to all these different charities, but we don’t even know where that money goes.

“I proposed to (Superintendent) Ben Porter that we do the challenge and raise money for someone who was affected by the disease,” Hustead added. “We thought of James O’Grady, who spent 23 years as a teacher and guidance counselor in the district, and Ben Taylor, who was responsible for starting girls’ and women’s fastpitch softball in the Ohio Valley.” O’Grady passed away in 2003, while Taylor succumbed in 2012.

As a result of Friday’s challenge, checks totaling $626 each were presented to O’Grady’s daughter, Kelly Butler, a middle school teacher at UL, and Taylor’s widow, Jennifer, who also took the challenge. There is a James O’Grady Scholarship which funds will be placed in, while Taylor will hand her check over to Wheeling Recreation Department Director Tom Bechtel so improvements to Ben’s Field at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex in Wheeling can continue to take place.

“It’s an honor to know that people care, still remember Ben and want to do something for ALS and his field,” Jennifer Taylor said. “I’m glad I can be a part of it. I’m excited. My entire family has done it, so I thought it’s my turn to do it for Ben and the community who loved him.”

According to Hustead, every teacher in the district was asked to participate, and only a handful didn’t.

All of the middle school teachers that took part had matching blue buckets in honor and memory of O’Grady.

“I’m not sure how many teachers are participating,” Hustead noted. “Each teacher, from grade school to high school, was asked to donate $10, get a bucket and do it. I’m doing it and I’m probably the oldest teacher in the district.”

Following the challenge, high school principal Bob Mascolino issued a challenge to every other school district in Belmont County.

North can be reached at knorth@timesleader online.com