VIENNA - The Mountaineers are coming to town.
At least 13 members of the West Virginia University football program are scheduled to be here tonight when the Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg conducts its annual Steak & Burger Dinner at the Grand Pointe Conference Center.
WVU players set to make the two-hour trip include freshman quarterback Ford Childress, who many are touting as the replacement for Geno Smith this fall. Joining Childress are fellow freshmen Garrett Hope, Jarrod Harper, Will Johnson, Tyler Anderson and Sean Walters as well as Dreamius Smith, Kevin White, Dailiel Shorts, Wendell Smallwood, Chavas Rawlins, Malik Greaves and Hodari Christian.
The 17th annual dinner will get under way at 6 p.m. In addition to appearances by the Mountaineers who will autograph one item for each guest another highlight is an auction that will feature a WVU Ultimate Fan Package (tickets to a Mountaineer game plus lots of memorabilia), a Date Night package (dinner, theater tickets, roses, chocolate, and a facial/manicure), and a Birthday Package featuring a three-hour rental of the Boys and Girls Club facility on Mary Street.
The Steak and Burger Dinner was the brainchild of recently retired Boys and Girls Club executive director Mike Flanagan and Parkersburg native Allan Johnson, who was serving as the strength coach at WVU at the time. They put together a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club that would feature Mountaineer football players. Little did they know at the time just how successful the concept would become.
Ben Shuman, who recently replaced Flanagan as the club's executive director, said the dinner annually raises about $35,000 for the Boys and Girls Club, which claims approximately 1,000 members and services that many more youngsters through its community outreach programs. The $35,000 represents a little less than 10 percent of the organization's annual budget.
Boys and Girls Club members are served steak while the adults in attendance get a hamburger. Shuman has upgraded the dinner's traditional menu to include twice baked potatoes, green beans, salads, cookies and brownies.
Greg Smith, a member of the Boys and Girls Club's board of directors, will serve as the master of ceremonies. Dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m.