North Rockland High School, Thiells, NY – Friday, November 28th will represent 13 years since a loyal group of friends first took take to the gridiron in memory of their friend Brian Casey, who was lost to cancer in 1995. Casey, a 1994 graduate of North Rockland, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma during the spring semester of his freshman year at SUNY Cobleskill. One month later, on April 7, 1995, he passed away. He was 19 years old.
In the early days, this benefit football tournament was simply an informal gathering of a handful of friends and family on the football field. It has now blossomed into what is affectionately known as “The Brian Casey Bowl”; a multi-generational event that players and their growing group of supporters look forward to every year on Black Friday. “I think we’re getting to the age now where we’re strongly considering a change to something less physically demanding, like bowling” jokes Richard Rogers, now 38, of Pearl River NY. Rogers is a long-time friend of Casey and one of the event’s co-founders; along with Kevin Whelan, 38, also of Pearl River, and Bryan McClinchy, 38 of Dobbs Ferry NY, both of whom also grew up with Casey. The tournament now draws between 50-75 players and spectators, held every Black Friday at noon at North Rockland High School. “We look forward to this day all season long. During the season of giving thanks, it’s a great opportunity to spend time with old friends and family, give back to the community, and have a wonderful time doing it.” say both Whelan and McClinchy.
The “Brian Casey Bowl” is now the centerpiece event in what has become a year round effort by Friends of Brian Casey Inc. (officially incorporated in 2007). In the 13 years since starting this football classic, over a dozenmini-grant scholarships have been awarded to North Rockland High School seniors who exemplify similar characteristics as those Casey was remembered fondly for. Whelan says “Brian was a proud member of the NRHS football and lacrosse teams, and was known by many as the guy who would do anything for anyone.” Now his friends are doing whatever they can to make sure his legacy lives on. NRHS Faculty including student advisors, coaching staff and teachers who knew Brian well still help by recommending and providing insight on scholarship candidates. They were his mentors, classmates and teammates in the mid 1990’s. The scholarships may be modest but the message is not.
In addition to the annual football game, Friends of Brian Casey Inc. is now actively fundraising throughout the year and has been able to contribute to many other charities that have impacted what they consider to be their extended network of family and friends. Friends of Brian Casey, Inc. is now a regular contributor to such charities as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Cavalry Hospice Hospital, Aid for Aidan, The American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association, Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, The Nick Rossamando 9/11 Memorial Scholarship Fund, Frank Phillips’ Tee-Off for Tots Foundation, Saint Baldricks and Homes for Heroes among others. Representatives and friends of the group have successfully participated in the 30 Rockefeller Center “Climb To the Top”, the 66 mile Bike for MS, the Tough Mudder, the NYC Triathlon, the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure, the Fairfield CT half marathon, the Annual Damon Runyon 5K for Cancer Research, Hurricane Sandy efforts and more.
Last year, Friends of Brian Casey Inc surpassed the $25,000 mark in total monetary donations since inception to their annual NRHS mini-grant scholarship program and the various causes they support. The group agrees that they are blessed with the greatest circle of friends and families anyone could ask for, and they’ve leaned on each other for years in tough times. They say, “We dreamed up this thing over a few pints together so many years ago, not one of us could have imagined it where it is today. There are so many of reasons to keep this thing rolling into the future.” “It’s an honor to do this in Brian’s name, it’s a pleasure to see his family every year and to get together at the Brian Casey Bowl, act like kids, and keep him alive in our hearts”.
“I want my kids to play in the Brian Casey Bowl” says Bryan McClinchy. “Whelan and Rogers say we’re too old….. I say we play until our kids can take the football out of our hands and take over. When that happens we’ll retire gracefully, coach from the sidelines, and say to our kids… let me tell you a story about my old friend Brian Casey. “
- WHO: Anyone interested in participating
- WHERE: North Rockland High School Football Field- 106 Hammond Road, Thiells, NY 10984
- WHEN: Black Friday, 12pm
- NOTE: Gathering 3pm through ??? at The Publik House, 30 W. Ramapo Rd., Garnerville, NY 10923 (845) 271-3200. Raffles and door prizes will be awarded. Friends of Brian Casey is currently seeking corporate sponsors and donations for its annual fundraising efforts as well as our door prizes for this year’s get together after the tournament.
Find us on Facebook under “Friends of Brian Casey Inc.”