By Chinta Strausberg
The Hyde Park Jr. Spartans Youth Football and Cheerleading teamâ€™s goal of winning the coveted â€œ2011 Mighty Mite Bowl Tournamentâ€ being held in Plant City, Florida literally depends on raising $21,000 before the 42-member team is scheduled to leave on December 2, 2011.
The program was begun by former NFL star Howard T. Griffith a native Chicagoan who played 11-years for the Carolina Panthers, San Diego Chargers and the LA Rams. He is the president, of the Hyde Park Jr. Spartans Youth Football and Cheerleading team, which is under the auspices of the United Youth Football League (UYFL).
In an effort to raise the $21,000, Griffith is hosting a banquet Saturday, November 19, 2011, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Josephineâ€™s Hardtimes Cooking Restaurant, 436 E. 79th St., Chicago, IL.
According to Frederick Gill, vice president of the Hyde Park Jr. Spartans, up to 100 football and cheerleaders will be attending the organizationâ€™s November 19th second annual event held at Josephineâ€™s Hardtimes restaurant.
â€œWe will present the youth with trophies to recognize the kids who are doing well. Overall, we have had a darn good season and the team has grown to seven total teams and that is absolutely good,â€ said Gill.
The teamâ€™s goal is to leave for Florida on December 2nd, play games on both December 3rd and 4th and return home on December 5th victorious after wining the Mighty Mite Bowl Championship.
But there is literally a cost to being in the much-anticipated game. Parents of the team have been busy holding parties to meet the $21,000 goal of which they have only raised $1800. Â â€œThe parents and the organization are still raising funds in order to fulfill the dreams of our young athletes,â€ said Gill. It will cost $500 per student to attend the Florida games and a reported $6,000 to pay for their bus.
Gill said there are 48 teams across the country that can sign up to go to Florida and that they will be matched up in different brackets for the championship showdown.
Griffith, a graduate of Percy L. Julian High School who contended for two Super Bowl championships, said he hopes everyone will attend the November 19th fundraiser.
â€œI think it is important that we honor kids who are doing the right thing. We are trying to do it through sports and learning the values of team sports. It is important for them to learn how to be a team player and to learn that sometimes they have to do things they donâ€™t want to do but for the sake of the team it is the best thing to do,â€ said Griffith.
On his hopes for the tournament, Griffith added: â€œWe like to win games, but itâ€™s the experience of getting to see kids from around the country, how they practice and play and seeing different things outside of their everyday experiences. It is a chance to get away. If you win a couple of games along the way, it is a chance to broaden their horizon,â€ he said.
To donate towards the trip, call Josephineâ€™s Hardtimes Restaurant at: 773-487-4300 or Fredrick Gill at: 312-725-4455.
Tickets to the Saturday, November 19 2011, fundraiser at Josephineâ€™s Hardtime Cooking Restaurant, 436 E. 79th St., Chicago, IL, are $45.00.
Photo Caption: Â Samuel Love, 8, is a member of the Hyde Park Jr. Spartans Youth Football and cheerleading Team. To play in the “2011 Mighty Mite Bowl Tournament” being held on December 3rd and December 4th in Plant City Florida, the team needs to raise $21,000. A fundraiser is being held Saturday, November 19, 2011, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Josephine’s Hardtimes Cooking Restaurant, 436 E. 79th St, Chicago, IL.
Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.