Written by Jenn Cefalu Friday, 24 December 2010 00:00
Tradition has always been thought of as one important part of the holiday season. For the community of General Douglas MacArthur High School, one important tradition was recently celebrated for the third straight year, all in the name of a close friend.
The third annual Rick Bailey Memorial Turkey Bowl was held on Saturday, Nov. 27 in honor of Richard Bailey. Bailey was a student at the University of Albany when he was shot and killed in October 2008. MacArthur, where Bailey was a 2004 graduate, hosted the tournament.
“The support of the community has just been incredible,” said Steve Mazziotti, one of the co-founders of the tournament. “This year is our biggest year yet, and it’s just incredible to see everyone come together for such a great cause in honor of such a great kid.”
This year’s Bailey Bowl was a daylong event held in freezing temperatures and gusty winds. Over 300 players on 20 teams competed for the tournament’s trophy, with a separate six-team women’s bracket being introduced for this year’s event. Players who braved the weather conditions said that their attendance was all in honor of a man who had been their teammate and friend for years.
“It’s just a great cause,” said Erik Milk, a Wantagh resident who has played in each of the Bailey Bowls. “Rick was a great guy who loved the game of football, and it’s an honor to be out here today playing in his memory.”
The Rick Bailey Memorial Turkey Bowl was first played in November 2008, just a month after Bailey’s death. The founders of the tournament chose flag football as a way to honor Bailey’s love for sports. Bailey was a varsity athlete while he attended MacArthur, and played for the Generals on MacArthur’s football, basketball, and baseball teams. Teams are made up of many of Bailey’s friends, former teammates, and teachers.
“This brings us all together again,” said Ashley Feldman, one of many former MacArthur cheerleaders who cheered on the teams from the sidelines. “We look forward to this, because it’s the best way for us to remember him.”
Over the past three years, the Rick Bailey Bowl has raised thousands of dollars for the Richard J. Bailey Memorial Fund. The fund helps support the annual Rick Bailey Memorial Scholarships, which are given to two deserving seniors from MacArthur High School. This year’s tournament featured a record high number of raffle prizes, including autographed New York Jets memorabilia, and an iPad. Attendees were also invited to bring a toy for the John Theissen Children’s Foundation.
“We come out here every year to support these kids and what they’re doing,” said Levittown resident Robert Hall. “You can see the hard work that went into this, and it’s all for their friend. I don’t think you’ll find another community that would do this for one of its own.”
This year’s Bailey Bowl raised several thousand dollars. Organizers are already looking toward next year’s event, and co-founder Matt Levy was quick to say that the event showcased what is really important - the memories between friends.
“Seeing the turnout of everyone here is just amazing,” he said. “It really does bring a tear to your eye to see the support we have from this entire community. In the end, it’s all about the smiles and the memories that we all get from this - that’s what this is really all about.”
For more information, pictures, and ways to donate, please visit www.Rick BaileyMemorial.com.