(Photo courtesy of Pat Slayton.)
"She's a little jumpy," joked Melody Penner, an 18-year-old Southeast Missouri State University freshman. "But she is having a blast. All of the kids are."
Bell was one of dozens of children who delighted in the antics of professional wrestlers who performed as part of a Missouri National Guard-sponsored fund-raiser for the Boys and Girls Club of Cape Girardeau. Nearly 100 adults and children attended the event.
About 20 of those in attendance at the March 28 event were children who benefit from the club. The children were paired with club volunteers like Penner. The event was held at the A.C. Brase Arena Building.
"It's a great night," Penner said. "It gives us all a chance to bond outside the club."
The event had two purposes: To give the kids a fun activity around positive adult role models and to raise money for the non-profit organization that depends on donations for its survival.
"We want to be good community partners," said Staff Sgt. Steven Bell, a Guard recruiter, club board member and event organizer. "So we feel a responsibility to put on events that benefit our area kids. It's for the kids. They're having a good time and we're helping out in a meaningful way."
But Guard presence wasn't limited to the sidelines - Jason "the Fury" Vaughn is a professional wrestler as well as a Guard soldier with the 1221st Transportation Company in Dexter, Mo.
The event raised about $3,500, said club executive director Luther R. Bonds. Although this is the first time the local club has partnered with the National Guard, he said the Boys & Girls Club has a long history of working with the military. Boys & Girls Clubs have provided clubs on military bases since the Persian Gulf crisis began.
"That was a huge thing for children of soldiers and has carried over to the local level," he said. "It's a way the military can reach out to the community, especially where children are involved. We really appreciate what they do."
And if events can actually make money in an economic time of uncertainty, even better, Bonds said.
The Boys & Girls Club of America is a national organization whose mission is to "enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens." Club programs and services promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence, Bond said.
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please call 1-800-GoGuard or visit www.moguard.com.
For more information about this release, please contact Scott Moyers at 573-339-6237 or at firstname.lastname@example.org