Coal Ridge coaches and community members rally to help Paonia coach and family
Garfield County rivals combine forces to raise more than $3,000 Tuesday night for Paonia coach fighting cancer
For Coal Ridge Athletic Director Ben Kirk and the rest of the athletics department, the news of a fellow coach struggling as he battles with cancer hit home.
“He’s a staple in their community, a really good guy, he had kids that came through that were great athletes, which grew their popularity as a family in the area,” Kirk said Tuesday as he talked about longtime Paonia coach Scott Rienks.
“Coaches are a group that support and look out for each other, and even though he is not one our coaches, our coaches wanted to do something to help out and support,” Kirk said.
Rienks began his coaching career in De Beque just outside of Garfield County and has been coaching football, basketball and track in Paonia for many years.
“He’s struggling with stage 4 colon cancer, and in the last couple of weeks really went down hill,” Kirk said.
“He is in a tough spot right now, and we have some people here at Coal Ridge that are really close to the family that keep us updated on what’s going on. It kind of came out that, financially, they could use a lot of help.”
With the support of the school and booster club, Coal Ridge High School held a chili and soup benefit dinner Tuesday during the Titans home game against western Garfield County rival Grand Valley High School.
The athletic department and booster club thought the Grand Valley game would be a good one to hold the benefit — they usually have a huge community turnout from both towns supporting their teams.
Aimee Gerber, the head volleyball coach and co-president of the Coal Ridge Booster Club, said they try to have a fundraiser every year for a family in need.
“He’s been a long time coach in the area. I’ve been coaching here about 10 years, and my oldest son played against his son and became friends with him,” Gerber said.
“It just kind of hit home when we found out he was fighting cancer. We just wanted to be whatever help we could be to him.”
Crockpots lined the south side of the Coal Ridge cafeteria Tuesday; with groups of people filing through the serving line one after another.
Gerber said 20 people signed up to provide chili and soup and another 30 signed up to bring desserts and bread.
“We had people from the community reach out. One of the crockpots was New Castle’s chili cook-off winner,” Gerber said.
“It wasn’t just families inside the school, it was families in the community.”
While watching fans and community members fill their bowls with chili, Kirk said he was hoping to bring in a couple thousand dollars to send to the family
Later Tuesday night, during the varsity boys basketball game, the crowd roared as announcer Justin Bankey let the crowd know they had raised $3,158 during the benefit.
“It’s all about helping out a good man — a good coach and a good family,” Kirk said.
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“From my perspective, with the economy going as it is, if there’s a good time to ask for a tax increase it’s probably now,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said.