Gathered Together

VIENNA-Making a difference.

That’s one of many things Boy Scouts are expected to do.

On Wednesday night, members of the local scouting community gathered at the Grand Pointe Conference Center to make a difference in the lives of the young men who belong to the Allohak Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

When the 45th annual Leadership Dinner had concluded, approximately $100,000 had been raised to support the local scouts, announced dinner chairman Ryan Taylor of Pickering Associates.

While it was Akron University football coach Terry Bowden who regaled those in attendance with one entertaining and often hilarious story after another, it was the Boy Scouts in attendance who were the real stars of the show.

“Scouting is a family,” said council president Greg Gentry. “It’s what we do. We make a difference in young boys lives.”

Over the last two weeks, a blue ribbon panel of community leaders raised approximately $85,000 to support scouting. Combine that with money previously raised and an additional $2,000 from Wednesday’s silent auction and the total hits six figures.

By the way, although most of the items in the silent auction were sports-related, the top winning bid was $275 for a photograph of former President Richard Nixon.

The fundraising committee-each of who received a football autographed by coach Bowden-was composed of Jeff Campbell, John Coffman, Ray Fanta, Eric Fitzer, Fred Fitzer, Gregory Gentry, Jon Leavitt, Gary Lombard, Iris McCrady, Jonelle Merritt, Chad Mildren, Jerry Parkins, Stew Powderly, Jack Simpkin, Doug Swearingen, J.T. Thomas, Matt Tranquill, Jeremy Webb, Dan Wharton Sr. and Lori Wilson.

Terry Bowden, making his first appearance at the dinner, was reminded that his father, former West Virginia and Florida State coach Bobby Bowden-had spoken there twice, most recently two years ago.

“My father is a very special man,” Bowden said. “I am blessed to have wonderful parents. My dad has been my mentor.”

Bowden also talked about the making a difference theme, saying he admired those who planted shade trees under which they knew they never would set.

Bowden was whimsical about his West Virginia roots, growing up in Morgantown, attending West Virginia University and coaching at Salem College, before moving on to bigger and better things, including leading the 1993 Auburn Tigers to an undefeated season in which his team downed arch-rival Alabama in the final game of the year. Although that Auburn team was on probation and banned from television and bowl games due to actions of the previous coach, it recently has been granted official national championship status.

“I want my ring,” Bowden said.

Bowden told the audience he recently signed Parkersburg High School all-state punter Tyler Foster and is looking at other prospects in the Mountain State to play for Akron.

He broke into his own rendition of the West Virginia Hills, saying “those words always remind me of my childhood.”

Bowden told a “story” about the time he and his brothers all were home for Thanksgiving with Mom and Dad. Bobby Bowden looked at his sons and wondered why he had no grandchildren. He told them he had put $10,000 into an account that would go to the first one that produced a child. The coach then bowed his head to say The Lord’s Prayer.

“When he looked up from praying, we were all gone,” Terry Bowden completed the story, which brought down the house.