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Football games highlight fund-raiser to fight ALS

05/14/2014, 12:00am EDT
Football games to fight ALS

Coach Dave Calabrese. The Blade

A tripleheader of semipro football games will be held Saturday in an effort to raise money to find a cure for a devastating disease.

The sixth annual Dave Calabrese Football Blitz will feature semipro football games at noon, 3:30 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. at Springfield High School. The event is aimed at raising funds to combat Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS.

The event is named after former semipro football player and coach Dave Calabrese, who was diagnosed with the disease in the fall of 2008. Calabrese, who excelled in football at Maumee High School and went on play minor league football for 14 years, died last May at the age of 40.

“We started this when David was diagnosed,” said Calabrese’s mother, Dawn Szymkowiak, the event’s organizer. “We donate the money to ALS research. We knew in our heads that it wouldn’t help David. But we still want to find a cure some day.”

The event has raised more than $10,000 so far.

Calabrese founded, owned, and coached a locally based team called the Northwest Ohio Knights. The team’s roster consists mostly of former local high school standouts.

The Northwest Ohio Knights will take on the Ohio Golden Knights at 3:30 p.m. The Michigan Lightning will play the Michigan Grizzles at noon. The Southern Michigan Timberwolves will play the Lima Thunder at 6:30.

The Knights and Lightning compete in the Crossroads Football League. The Knights won the league title last season. The team’s home opener will be at 5 p.m. on May 31 at the Lucas Country Recreation Center.

Tickets for the exhibition event Saturday are $10 and $5 for children 12 and under for all three games. Children under 7 get in free.

A 50/​50 raffle and silent auction also will be held to raise additional funds. The auction features a variety of items, including gift certificates to area businesses.

Proceeds benefit the Northern Ohio Chapter of the ALS Association.

There is no cure for the motor neurone disease that makes it increasingly difficult to talk, walk, eat, and breathe.

For more info call 419-297-0128. Donations can be sent to Sun Federal Credit Union of Maumee. Other donations can be sent to Dawn Szymkowiak at 527 Cambridge Park South, Maumee, OH 43537

“I like to keep on doing it for David. Hopefully some day we’ll find a cure,” Szymkowiak said.

Contact Mark Monroe at:,

419-724-6354, or on

Twitter @MonroeBlade.

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