Tournament to aid pancreatic cancer research

STEUBENVILLE -Fred Bell died on a Thursday in November 2012, four days after he was officially diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

But the Steubenville native’s legacy lives on this weekend with the first Fred Bell Memorial Golf Tournament followed by a dinner and two auctions to raise funds for pancreatic cancer awareness as well as research and screening at the Tony Teramana Cancer Center.

“We decided last year to organize a golf tournament, and we hope to raise at least $5,000 for this initial event and grow that amount every year. The tournament will start Sunday morning at the Spring Hills Golf Course. So far we have 21, four-person teams registered and we still have room for a couple more teams. So, anyone interested in playing in this tournament should contact Rick Perkins at (740) 632-8543 to sign up for the tournament. The tournament fee includes a steak dinner at the P.A.C. shelter,” explained Laurie (Bell) Sands.

She is one of Bell’s three children and a co-organizer of the golf tournament and a dinner and auction at the Polish Athletic Club in Steubenville, which will start at 2 p.m. Sunday.

“The dinner and auctions are open to the public. The dinner is $15. Anyone can attend the dinner or can just come to the auctions that start at around 3 p.m. My dad had so many friends that we hope to see at the dinner and auction,” noted Sands.

“Thanks to the tremendous help and support from Rick and Betty Perkins, Kenny Davis, Ken and Carlene Horner, Mark Longo and the Abramowicz family we have obtained some incredible sports memorabilia that will be auctioned off during the live auction or a Chinese auction,” said Sands.

Those items include a National Football League football signed by Archie Peyton and Eli Manning.

“I’m almost afraid to touch it. Can you imagine having a football signed by two Super Bowl winners and their father, who also played professional football for the New Orleans Saints? I am very grateful to Danny Abramowicz for also getting us additional signed footballs signed by the current Saints as well as autographed jerseys from Drew Brees, Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham,” Sands related.

“We also have Pittsburgh Steeler jerseys signed by Hines Ward and Jerome Bettis and a football signed by Jerome Bettis. And, we will be auctioning off Pittsburgh Pirate and Pittsburgh Penguins memorabilia as well as some more special items that are literally still coming to us,” continued Sands.

“If you are looking for something other than sports memorabilia, we have a Seven Springs Resort gift pass for four people from the Herald-Star; a Mountaineer Casino and Race Track gift pass and numerous dinner gift cards; a Dave Barnhouse framed print; and ball caps from Catholic Central High School, Steubenville Big Red, St. Peter’s school and St. Anthony’s school, compliments of the Target Sports Shop,” continued Sands.

According to Rick Perkins, “Joey Abramowicz is friends with the owner of the McIlhenny Co. that makes Tabasco Sauce. Joey called me and asked if we had gift bags for the golfers and I said we would try to put something together. The next thing I know is we get a delivery of 60 boxes containing all kinds of Tabasco items to give to the golfers Sunday. That is how much this event has grown.”

Bell attended St. Peter Catholic Church and School and graduated from Central in 1964. He later coached the St. Peter’s football team.

But Sands said her father supported both city high schools and attended all of the Central and Big Red football games.

Bell was a 42-year member of the Polish Athletic Club, served as the late sergeant-at-arms and past president. He was also a longtime member of the Steubenville Men’s Golf Club and was an avid fan of the Steelers and Notre Dame.

“Everyone involved organizing this golf tournament and dinner has had a family member or friend touched by pancreatic cancer. It is a terrible disease with no cure. It receives the least amount of funding for research. That’s why we decided to help raise money for research and screening for pancreatic cancer,” declared Sands.

“My dad was my best friend. He was a man of strength, of courage, of wisdom, and most of all a man of unconditional love. My dad had a love of life, a love for his friends, but most of all his family. My dad lost his leg when he was 21 years old. I can’t even begin to imagine not just the physical pain he endured, but the emotional pain as well. Despite this loss, my endured. He continued on with his life, doing anything and everything he wanted to do without a single complaint. He took care of his brother and his sisters, raised his children, adored his grandchildren, and at the same time was a best friend to everyone around him. He had the kindest of hearts, the purest of souls, he saw the best in everyone- no matter what their faults may be. He had a kind word to say about everyone,” related Sands.

“He taught me the importance of family, the importance of love and kindness, but most of all about courage. He used to say ‘listen, don’t worry, it will all work out.’ Every time I would hear those words, I knew it was true because it came from my daddy. Not a day went by that I would look at him and not be amazed by his strength. Not just his physical strength but the strength of his spirit. My dad loved me, my brother and my sister and his grandchildren unconditionally. It was the purest of love,” stated Sands.

“I did not want to lose my dad to pancreatic cancer. I hope our efforts can help someone in the future beat pancreatic cancer,” Sands said.

(Gossett can be contacted at dgossett@heraldstaronline.com)