Football game raised thousands for Special Olympics

WELLSBURG – A football game that pitted area law enforcement officers against Brooke County firefighters raised $4,731 for the Brooke County Special Olympics program.

Held April 27, it was the seventh year that teams comprised of police and firefighters took to the Brooke High School football field to raise funds for a local cause.

The annual game has raised $11,450 for the cause as well as $9,515 for Brooke County Easter Seals in previous years.

This year, as in last, members of the Brooke County Fraternal Order of Police were joined by members of the Weirton and Wheeling FOP lodges in taking on members of several Brooke County fire departments.

The police won, with a score of 14-6.

But the most important thing was helping the Special Olympics program, said Larry Palmer, president of the Brooke County FOP and a Brooke County sheriff’s deputy.

The Brooke County FOP and Sheriff’s Department have supported the program in various ways, including a basketball game in which deputies have played against Special Olympians, said Sara Furioli.

A longtime Special Olympics coach, Furioli is following her late father as director of the program.

This year the game was renamed the Bill Furioli Memorial Football Classic in honor of Furioli, who served as director of the program for 26 years up until his death early this year.

Sara said money raised by the game will help to pay for transportation, registration fees and other expenses associated with the various regional and state competitions attended by Brooke County Special Olympians.

She noted 31 local athletes participated in the recent state competition.

Vern Ridgway, a Brooke County FOP member who coordinates the game, said many helped to make the game a success.

In addition to the police and firefighters, they included the Brooke County Board of Education and staff of Brooke High School, who provided the location and football equipment; Bethany College, which also provided equipment and uniforms; and volunteers with Special Olympics who manned the concession stand and oversaw parking.