Published, April 19th, 2008, The Huntsville Item

County GOP, Democrats to raise funds for YMCA on the field

The Walker County Democrats and Republicans are squaring off once again, but this time it's on the football field to raise funds for the Huntville YMCA.

The Political Science Junior Fellows are hosting a flag football game at noon today at Pritchett Field between the two party rivals.

“We want to encourage civic engagement among students, promote cooperation between Republicans and Democrats, and help out a local non-profit organization,” said Blake Holub, Junior Fellows vice president. “Thus far, the response has been wonderful.

“The Republican and Democratic parties have agreed to sponsor the T-shirts and we've had a lot of encouragement from the community.”

The game is a five-on-five contest, with professor Mike Yawn as the all-time quarterback.

Dr. John Holcombe, chair of the Walker County Democratic Party, will serve as honorary coach of the Democratic team.

Russell Martinez, who chairs the county Republican Party, will serve as team captain and wide receiver.

The remaining players are Sam Houston State University political science students.

Both Martinez and Holcombe emphasize their enthusiasm about working together to make Huntsville a better place.

“During an especially heated election year, this is a good opportunity for the parties to come together for a charitable cause and the good of the community,” Martinez said.

Holcombe expressed a similar sentiment.

“The good thing about the football game is that it is competitive but it is also social,” Holcombe said. “Political parties should have fun together.”

Overall, the students raised $1,350, which will be given to the YMCA following the game.

“The proceeds will be used for scholarships to Teen Center programs that promote character development,” said YMCA Director Sandra Clifton. “This fundraising effort helps us in our mission to make a positive impact on the youth of Huntsville.”

The YMCA is giving away T-shirts to the first 50 children that show up to watch the game.

To show their commitment to civic participation and investing in Huntsville, the participants contributed 90 percent of the funds themselves.

“We didn't turn down donations,” Holub said, “but we wanted to show our commitment to this community by planning this event and using our own money as much as possible.”

The students also hold part-time or full-time jobs, have a full load of classes, and volunteer at either the HEARTS Veterans Museum or the Wynne Home Arts & Cultural Center.

The Political Science Junior Fellows is an organization that promotes civic involvement, education, and professionalism, Holub said.

Students participating in this program must meet stringent academic requirements and have a demonstrated record of public service.

For more information about the organization or the event, contact Mike Yawn at (936) 577-9695.