CLEARFIELD – Twenty-two Clearfield County football players were honored for the part they played in the battle against cancer during the 32nd annual Mr. Gridiron Banquet, which was held Sunday, Nov. 6, at the Clearfield VFW.
Connor McCracken of Clearfield Area Junior-Senior High School was named the 2022 Mr. Gridiron. He raised $1,623.98, the highest total of the 22 candidates participating.
First runner-up in the contest was Carson Dombroski of DuBois Area High School. Second runner-up was Daniel McGarry of Curwensville High School.
Other participating football players included: Clearfield Area Junior-Senior High School: Eric Myers, Isaac Samsel, and Zachary Billotte; Curwensville High School: Josh Bloom and Damian Brady; DuBois Area High School: Ben Hickman and Garrett Frantz; Glendale Junior-Senior High School: Lucas Tarnow and Mason Peterson; Moshannon Valley Junior-Senior High School: Levi Knuth, Hunter Knepp, and Connor McCracken; Philipsburg-Osceola Senior High School: Ben Gustkey, Devyn Suhoney and Dawson Snyder; and West Branch High School: Kyle Kolesar, John Stavola, Gabe McCamley and Landen Pase.
Together, all 22 players raised over $11,300 for the American Cancer Society. Susan Babik, senior community manager of the American Cancer Society, welcomed Mr. Gridiron candidates, family members and coaches to the event.
She reported for over 100 years the American Cancer Society has been leading the way to transform cancer from deadly to preventable.
“Our vision (the American Cancer Society) is a world free from the pain and suffering of cancer. Our purpose is to achieve it. Every action moves us one step closer.”
Babik thanked Mr. Gridiron candidates and their families who have teamed up together in the fight against cancer.
“At a grass roots level, you have contributed over $11,000 to the fight. Because of events such as this, we are getting closer to finding a cure. You truly have made a difference.”
Marguerite Santorine, a volunteer with American Cancer Society Voices of Hope was the keynote speaker.
She shared of how her family became a team, much like a football team, when her daughter Elizabeth was diagnosed with leukemia at two years old.
She shared stories of coordinating the x’s and o’s on the white board while her family navigated hospitalizations and treatments – much like a football team does to prepare for a big game.
“We became a team, and Elizabeth was our center.” Just like in football, not all battles are won. Santorine shared that her daughter passed away in January 2000, shortly after her third birthday.
Santorine expressed her gratitude for the candidates for their efforts in fighting back against cancer. “For what you are doing, we can’t thank you enough,” Santorine said. “What you are doing is making a difference.”