By DANIELLE TEPPER
Two years ago, amid some serious belt-tightening, the decision to eliminate all sports funding from the Red Bank Middle School budget came as a shock to Gene Horowitz, whose older son was looking forward to playing baseball that spring.
In order to correct what he saw as an injustice to the kids, Horowitz, of Branch Avenue, reached out to members of the community to brainstorm about what could be done. The result was the creation of the non-profit RBMS Athletics Foundation.
One night last month, Horowitz, an 18-year Red Bank resident who has fourth- and seventh-graders in the school, appeared before the mayor and borough council to recap the success of the foundation and to thank those who helped make it happen.
“This year, we actually had all our teams funded,” Horowitz said. “But we know that’s not a given.”
Since its creation, in November of 2010, the foundation has held a number of grassroots fundraisers such as a pancake breakfast and a carnival, which raised approximately $2,000. Between money raised at similar events and donations from the community, the foundation was able to raise almost $8,000 for 2010-2011, which funded the boys and girls softball/baseball teams, as well as a rudimentary basketball season.
For the 2011-2012 school year, a portion of the the sports budget was returned, but not enough to keep all seven teams (boys and girls soccer, basketball, softball/baseball, and combined track) running successfully. The foundation raised the $60,000 needed to fully cover the program for the entire school year. That money pays for the umpires, faculty, transportation, and more.
Unfortunately, that kind of success is not always a given, said Horowitz, and the foundation members find themselves having to raise $15,000 for 2012-2013.
We are focusing on two things for right now,” he said. ” One is yet again making up that gap, and two is thanking our community partners, whose support has been astonishing.
This Thursday night, the foundation is sponsoring a raffle, to be held at the school, for three donated prize packages, each worth between $900 and $1,500. Prizes include:
A 46-inch, high-definition flat-screen Samsung TV, with a retail value of $1,500.
A ‘Monster Sports Package,’ which includes two regular-season tickets to see the N.Y. Giants (parking included); four tickets to see the Philadelphia Phillies/Washington Nationals game (parking also included); four tickets to a Lakewood Blue Claws game; golf rounds for four at Deal Country Club and the Beacon Hill Country Club; footballs autographed by NY Jets great LaDainian L.T. Tomlinson and Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams; and tuition for a week-long summer sports camp at Brookdale Community College.
A Best of Red Bank package,which includes a nights stay at the Oyster Point Hotel; two tickets to see comedian Bobby Collins at the Count Basie Theatre, including a pass for the Members Only Carlton Lounge; $100 gift certificates for Milagro Spa, Readies Fine Foods, Brothers Pizza, and Prowns Home Improvements; $50 gift certificates to YesterCades and Teak Restaurant; $25 gift certificates to No Joes Café, Foodtown, Pizza Fusion and Cupcake Magician; and a gift basket with a $10 gift certificate from Funk & Standard.
A total of 600 tickets sold at $20 a piece would fund every single sports program for the 2012-2013 year, Horowitz said.
Tickets may be purchased online at the foundations website for an extra $2 surcharge or by going directly to the purchase site. They may also be purchased at the Red Bank Borough Board of Education office at 76 Branch Avenue, or by contacting Gene Horowitz via email or at 732-778-2217.
The drawing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the RBMS Media Center. Winners will be notified after 8 p.m.