Lancaster Catholic High School’s golf team finished third in the District Three Class AA Tournament this past fall after a second-place performance at the Lancaster-Lebanon League tourney.
Strong showings, for sure, but the Crusaders are most proud of what their success meant for others.
As part of the “Birdies for Schreiber” program, Catholic golfers helped raise more than $11,000 for the not-for-profit Schreiber Pediatric Rehab Center, which provides physical, occupational and speech-language therapy and educational/recreational programs for nearly 4,000 children in Lancaster County.
Crusaders golf coach Jay Filling said the team wanted to help give back to the community as part of its 2014 season. Senior Richard Riva and his younger brother Will suggested Schreiber as a potential benefactor, and things took off from there as Catholic players carded 77 birdies all the way through the PIAA Championships.
“It’s amazing what a couple of teenage boys can do, because it was all their idea,” said James DeBord, president of Schreiber Pediatric Rehab Center. “Richard and Will took on the endeavor, and members of the Catholic golf team just stepped up for us, as did all the people who pledged their support.”
In addition to those who promised to make a financial donation per birdie, ranging from $1 to $20, others made flat monetary donations to Schreiber in honor of Lancaster Catholic’s efforts. DeBord said they ranged from $500 to $1,500.
“These were just humble kids who wanted to help others,” Filling said. “The Rivas already volunteered at Schreiber as a family and James (DeBord) is my brother-in-law, so it was just sort of a natural fit. And with how it turned out, I couldn’t be more proud of the kids on our team.”
Richard Riva said the amount of money donated to Schreiber could have been greater had the effort started sooner and the team performed better.
“To be honest, 77 birdies is not a lot for the whole team for the whole year,” he said. “Some of the bigger teams in the state probably had double the amount we had.
“I’m graduating and my brother will be running the program next year, but it will keep giving our players the incentive to perform well. I think a pretty good number would be 100 birdies. Had we done that, we might have raised another $5,000 for Schreiber.”
Will Riva, a sophomore at Catholic, said giving back to children in need was a rewarding experience the team hopes to build on come fall.
“It’s just a good thing for the community,” he said. “We’ll spread the word even more next year, reach out to all our contacts and do whatever we can to make sure this thing will flourish throughout my years at Lancaster Catholic.”
That type of commitment puts a smile on the face of DeBord and bolsters Schreiber’s staff, which helps children living with congenital and acquired disabilities and developmental delays as well as typically developing kids through a PA Stars 4-Star early learning center for children ages 12 months to 5 years.
“I told the kids that because of the money they raised to help make the services available here at Schreiber, it is very likely that some day years from now one of the young people receiving these services will be able to walk down a fairway or stand on their own by a green to watch their own son or daughter play high school golf,” DeBord said. “In the end, the value of that is most certainly beyond priceless.”