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April 6, 2013
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Ford: County residents turn out in droves for charity sports events

For many, Saturday is a day of rest and/or recreation. A day off from the rigors of our professional lives, deservedly earned after a grueling five-day stretch of work.

Some folks will sleep in ’til noon, others have Little League games to attend, some will merely lounge on the couch taking in the day’s featured sporting events, which today include the NCAA Final Four games — and all those are good options.

But for hundreds of Nevada County locals, today is a day to give back. To show support for a young man who has been dealt the toughest of hands.

The Austin Dowling Tackle Leukemia 5K walk/jog will take place at 10 a.m. at the Bear River High School with upward of 400 people attending and possibly more, but at least that many have confirmed they will be in attendance on the fundraiser’s Facebook page.

Dowling, a Bear River senior who competed on the football and track and field teams, was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia in mid-February and has endured quite a life change since.

So in classic Nevada County fashion, a fundraiser with an athletic theme sprung up in support.

Hundreds will scrap their previous plans to show support financially and physically for Dowling, who unfortunately will not be able to attend the event.

This is what makes this community so great. Not only does this community rally to help those in need, but it orchestrates these events to be healthy for those showing support.

We see these types of fundraisers all year long in Nevada County. Events like the Barbara Schmidt Millar Triathlon, the Jim Rogers Memorial Ride, the Shoot for Christian 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, the Drew Reynolds Memorial and the Saving Second Base softball tournaments, as well as the annual Turkey Trot, to mention just a few, keep this community tightly woven into each other’s lives.

These types of fundraisers help those in our community through sport. In today’s age, the major sports world is riddled with scandal and strife.

But here in Nevada County, sports bring us together in a low-stress fun-first competition that gives back to the participant as the participant gives toward the chosen cause of the event.

I know its a cheese-and-cornball sandwich type of topic, but these events are the ones that keep our community tight knit. Something that took this writer a while to appreciate.

Growing up, I always carried an ambivalence toward my home town.

As a boy, spending stints in Penn Valley, Lake Wildwood, Grass Valley and Smartsville, I came to love swimming at the river, extreme tubing behind a ski boat and competing in any sport available. But I also despised the small-town atmosphere. I didn’t understand what was so appealing about knowing the name of everybody on your block or the need to wave to people you vaguely know in public.

But after spending the last two years covering these sports-oriented fundraising events and seeing the impact they have on those they are intended to help and the cathartic effect they have on those putting them on and those who participate, I now understand more clearly why this community is so great.

It’s because we truly care for our neighbors. Their successes make us smile and their challenges conjur a want to help, and that’s the way it should be.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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The Union Updated Apr 6, 2013 12:25AM Published Apr 6, 2013 12:08AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.