POLO – The rivalry between the Milledgeville Missiles and the Polo Marcos took a backseat Thursday when the schools’ two volleyball teams squared off for their NUIC contest in the Marcos gym.
The Marcos community turned the evening into an $11,000 fundraising effort for two Milledgeville teens who were injured in an automobile crash Sunday, Oct. 9, on Route 40 at Genesee Road.
In the most recent report, the teens both were in critical condition.
The evening events included a bake sale, silent auction and 50/50 raffle. Proceeds from the gate admission also were donated to the teens and their families.
Trey Selman, a 2021 graduate of Milledgeville High School, won the 50/50 pot, at $610, which he donated back to the families.
“They need it more than I do,” Selman said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
Selman said Thursday’s event shows how small towns such as Polo and Milledgeville help each other out during tragedies such as this one.
“These small towns come together like nothing else,” Selman said. “It’s really great to see.”
The event raised $11,089 for the Milledgeville families.
“It was a good night. We had lots of support from both communities,” said Jill Blake, the high school’s secretary.
The crash happened about 4 p.m. Sunday when a southbound car driven by a 16-year-old Milledgeville boy made an improper turn off Route 40 onto Genesee into the path of a northbound SUV driven by Brian Harris, 53, of Chadwick, the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
The SUV hit the car on the passenger side. Two passengers in the car, boys ages 15 and 16, suffered “severe injuries” and were flown to a regional hospital. Both are members of the Missiles’ eight-man football team.
The others, the two drivers and the passenger in the SUV – an 18-year-old man from Chadwick who is a 2021 graduate of Milledgeville High School – were taken to a local hospital. The car’s driver was cited for failure to yield and for a graduated driver’s license violation.
Polo athletic director Ted Alston said Thursday’s event demonstrates how local school districts help each other.
“It’s a great feeling to know that schools within our conference, we really care about each other, we care about our communities, our students and our kids,” Alston said. “We would all do anything for each other to help each other out. It’s just one of the great things I love about small-town football and small-town sports and living where we do.”
Polo Superintendent Kelly Mandrell echoed that sentiment in a post on the school’s website.
“The Polo Community School District would like to thank everyone for their help, donations, participation, in last night’s activities to help support the families of the Chadwick-Milledgeville School District,” Mandrell wrote. “Due to the overwhelming outreach from the surrounding communities, as well as having so many people willing to give their time last night, we were able to raise $11,049.
“The Centennial Elementary Staff also added two gas cards for $120 each. In a short time, we were able to raise a total of $11,289. This is an incredible amount in such a short time. I am personally humbled and proud of this wonderful community that we live in. Thank you for your generosity and kindness. It is a great day to be a Marco as well as being a Chadwick-Milledgeville Missile ally. Thank you again.”
Polo wasn’t the only NUIC school to reach out to help the teens. Forreston High School held a 50/50 raffle and bake sale at its volleyball game Thursday to raise money for the families.
T-shirts also are being sold as a fundraiser for the families and are available to order on the Milledgeville High School’s Facebook page.
The Milledgeville Ministerial Association also has created an account at Milledgeville State Bank, 451 N. Main St., to assist the families with expenses.
On the Twitter account of Fulton athletic director Jeff Parsons, a flyer was republished that said a 50/50 raffle and a portion of the gate from the Fulton versus Eastland-Pearl City game at 1 p.m. Saturday in Fulton would be donated to the affected Milledgeville families.
A Twitter message from the coach at Forreston said that the school plans to have another benefit when the volleyball team plays Milledgeville on Oct. 18. Money from the sales of a pork chop dinner will go to the families.