Panther for a Day : Cody Cliffton offers a touching recap of the Palooza

           I could write about the money that was raised, the people who I met, or the competitions that took place. I decided not to do that. The more I thought about what went on at The Panther Palooza, the more I realized that one thing overtook all the events.

                The overwhelming feeling of family.

                Obviously, the Page County Lady Panthers would feel like a family, playing together for years. It is pretty clear as I watched from my position in right-center field in the Celebrity Softball Game.

                But beyond that, there was a feeling of family amongst everyone involved. Even us from Augusta County ,ShenandoahCounty, and other parts of Northern Virginia, we were all Panthers for the day.

                We all wanted to do what we could do raise money for the Lady Panthers in hopes that they would have a new fence when the spring arrives. It wasn’t just wishful thinking, like a child in December hoping that a new bike will magically appear under the Christmas tree, but led by Jerry Carter and all the other workers and countless volunteers, the effort was put in and something happened that will not soon be forgotten.

                I saw other miraculous things as well.

                For one, I saw myself make my first ever field goal, and second, and third. I saw Bill Meade put up an amazing performance in the home run derby, and I saw how you can play tennis with a roll of masking tape, two chairs, and an empty stage thanks to Coach Kirk Comer.

                I realized that cornhole is incredibly competitive and I wouldn’t qualify to hold some of those gentlemen’s cornhole bags. Congratulations to those who, unlike me, had no problem putting the bag through the hole.

                I also saw the first ever steal in a slow-pitch softball game, a balk on Bill Meade, one of my home runs get robbed by an amazing catch from an even more amazing Lady Panther, and smiles on everyone’s face when it was over.

                No matter how tired we all were at the end of the day, there we were, all sitting in the cafeteria talking about our personal triumphs of the day, just like fishermen telling everyone how big their catch was, before we head home to icy-hot our joints and realize that we aren’t in high school anymore.

                But the thing that I will remember most from this day is not the softball game, the field goals I made, the 3-point contest, or even the fact that the Lady Panthers will have a new fence when spring rolls around. It is the fact that for that day we were all family. We all belonged to Page County, and I for one, loved being an honorary member of the county.

                Why do I have to leave?

 

Team Photo : The Around the Valley in 60 Days Celebrity All-Star Squad

 

Front Row – Bill Meade of the Page News & Courier, Brian Caviness of the Page County Sheriff’s Department, Kirk Comer of Shenandoah Tennis Association, Lori Mongold of Page County Softball, Kevin Wertz of Front Royal Washington Post, Cody Cliffton of the News Virginian and Chris Carter of Crystal Clear Delivery.

Back Row- Dan Simpson of the Washington Post, Randy Wertz of FR Post, Andy Caviness of the Luray Wranglers, Tommy Simmons of the Strasburg Express, Porky Bowman of the Woodstock River Bandits, Jerry Carter of Around The Valley in 60 Days, Jeff Burner of the New Market Rebels, Mark Klosinski of the Harrisonburg Turks and Bat Boy Kyle Lucas.