LAKE GEORGE - The recent holiday season was made a little brighter for some area families due to a collaborative effort of the Lake George and Warrensburg school district faculties, students, administration, parents and friends.
The effort involved a high-spirited fundraiser and a follow-up by students and school staffers who adopted several area families and shopped for holiday presents for them.
On Oct. 29, Lake George High School hosted the third annual Bear Skin Bowl, a charity flag-football game between faculty and staff of Lake George and Warrensburg schools.
The event originated in 2006 as a fundraiser for Lake George resident and Warrensburg teacher/coach Maryann Bump who was battling breast cancer, Lake George High School Assistant Principal Mark Bleibtrey recalled this week.
The fundraiser was launched as a friendly challenge between Lake George Football Coach Jeff Bennett, and an opposing duo of Warrensburg Principal Doug Duell and Bleibtrey, at that time Warrensburg's football coach.
The idea immediately gained support of both school's administration, staff, and members of the Lake George school board. School board member Robert Bolen was instrumental in getting the inaugural game off the ground, Bleibtrey said this week, and board member Dan Cracco plays in the game and even had the task of covering Warrensburg coach Mike Leonbruno, a Glens Falls Greenjacket football star.
In its three years of existence, the proceeds from the Bear Skin Bowl have exceeded $7,000. All of the proceeds have been donated to Lake George and Warrensburg individuals and families in need, Bleibtrey said.
This year with the support of Lake George Superintendent Mary Cahill and the Warrensburg administration, a group of students from both schools went together on a shopping trip for Operation Santa, he said.
"Student-athletes from the two schools had the wonderful experience of giving back to their respective communities," Bleibtrey said. "The students who normally see each other on the other end of an athletic field, wearing different colored jerseys, had a great afternoon and exemplified what student-athletes should be. The generous contributions to the game went an incredibly long way and were certain to provide an incredible Christmas morning for all of the families the group adopted," he said.
As for the competition, Lake George won the first contest in 2006 by two points, Warrensburg won the second in 2007 by the same margin, and in the 2008 game, the teams were tied at the end of regulation. The players decided to play overtime, but again finished up tied.
Bleibtrey expressed thanks to the players and volunteers for the 2008 Bear Skin Bowl.
"The list of people who helped make this a success would go into the hundreds," he said. "So many people donated time, money, food and auction items, and we would like to say thanks to all of them!"