Interscholastic Support - Area Schools Raise Money for Narraguagus Teen

NarraguagusJr/Sr High School sophomore Alex Walsh, left, and senior Blaine Grant hold a raffle board for the benefit.

Like everyone else who entered the 50/50 raffle at Washington Academy Jan. 3, sophomore Brecken Barker hoped she had the winning ticket.

She didn’t want the money. She wanted the chance to give it to the family of Narraguagus senior basketball player Chad Perry, who has osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.

“I had made up my mind before they drew that I would be donating it back,” Barker said, adding that, if she didn’t win, she hoped whoever did would donate it back. In fact, she planned to suggest that to the winner.

Barker said she won about $270 from the 50/50. Thanks to her donation, the proceeds of the raffle and some other individual donations, the Washington Academy senior class and athletic department were able to raise $705 for the Perry family. The money will help cover the costs of Chad’s chemotherapy treatments in Bangor and surgery to be performed in Boston as well as associated travel expenses.

Barker said she got to know Chad through his girlfriend, Lanie. 

“When I heard about his condition I knew my school and my team should do something to help,” she said. “They were all for it.”

The members of the WA basketball team also bought some “Chad Strong” bracelets and T-shirts, the proceeds of which benefit the Perry family.

Barker said she understands what it’s like to go through a difficult time associated with the health of a family member. Her brother, Damon, now a high school senior, suffered a traumatic head injury due to a fall when he was 7. He spent five weeks in critical care and two weeks in recovery and rehab. 

“My heart hurts for Chad and his family and I wish there was more I could do to help,” she said.

Washington Academy is but one of several area schools jumping in to help.

Students at Machias Memorial High School raised $2.624.50 Jan. 12 through a 50/50 raffle, a donation jar and the proceeds from the gate.

Freshman Abby Hooper, who also knows Chad’s girlfriend, said she came up with the idea during a game about a week earlier. She and a fellow student, freshman Destiny Look, presented the idea to their cheering coach, Michelle Wood, and to Principal Brian Leavitt. Both were supportive.

“Then everyone else just started pitching in donating money and donating time,” said Look. “[Chad] is part of our community and we’re a small community.”

The basketball team also bought “Chad Strong” bracelets.

“If we can do more, we probably will,” Hooper said.

Wood said she was pleased Hooper came up with the idea.

“I definitely thought we should do something,” Wood said. “The games just turned out to be at the right time for us to do it.”

Others preparing for the game Thursday at Machias were also supportive.

“I think it’s wonderful. It’s absolutely wonderful,” said Patty Keene of Machias, who handled the admission money along with her son, Devin, a freshman. “We just have a small community and everybody just pulls together.”

Keene said she is especially impressed by the fact that many people making donations do not even know Chad or his family.

The following night, during a game against Narraguagus, the members of the Jonesport-Beals High School boys basketball team presented a $2,500 donation to Chad and his family, said coach Skip Alley.

The money came from a bottle drive and every member of the team participated. Many people who didn’t have bottles or cans to give made cash donations.

“They did a great job, a really great job,” Alley said.

Also on Friday night, the Lubec junior high basketball team held a 50/50, set out a donation jar and raffled off prizes donated by area merchants, said coach Shawn Tinker. The team raised $940.

“That wasn’t bad for a little school,” he said.

The Lubec girls team attended the Thursday night game at Machias. They also held a raffle to benefit Chad.

“We don’t know the boy but this is a small town,” said Ariane Savage, one of several adults who accompanied the girls to the game.

Members of the Narraguagus community said they are touched by the support.

“I just think it’s amazing, the support,” said Jessica Leighton, whose daughter, Madison, is a junior on the Narraguagus girls team. “It makes you feel grateful to live in a small town like this.”

Madison Leighton said she also appreciates the support, adding Chad is a great person and it is difficult for him to have to miss out on his senior year in basketball.

“It seems like every school is participating,” said Heather Thompson, coach of the Narraguagus girls team, calling the support “amazing.”

Boys coach Ryan Fletcher described the support from other schools as “awesome,” adding, “They’ve all been great. Every day I get phone calls.”

That’s just the way it is Downeast, Perry supporters said.

“We’re a really small community and usually when tragedy strikes, the community all comes out to help,” said Wood. “Everyone Downeast supports each other.”

“So many times we say, ‘someone ought to do something,’” said Tinker. “Well, last time I checked, I was someone.”