Ohio State Tailgate Party to Support Area Cancer Patients
During his life, Bob Perks’ goal was to bring cancer support to area communities.
As a State College native, Penn State alum and founding member of the local chapter of Coaches vs. Cancer, Perks was devoted to helping cancer patients in Centre County and the surrounding areas.
This devotion never faltered, even throughout Perks own battle with cancer.
After Perks lost his fight with the disease in 2005, his wife Doreen Perks established the Bob Perks Cancer Assistance Fund as a way to help fulfill her late husband’s wishes. The nonprofit provides financial support for basic necessities to local individuals and families dealing with a cancer diagnosis.
To help raise funding for the organization, Perks said she wanted to hold an event that was unique and fun and reflected Bob and his passion for Penn State football. After a friend brought up hosting an away game tailgate fundraiser, Perks knew she had something special.
“We just ran with it. It totally reflects who Bob was,” she says. “He loved Penn State football. It’s totally reflective of who Bob was and what his passion was.”
Eight years later, the annual Bob Perks Fund Tailgate Party is the signature event for the nonprofit, bringing together community members to celebrate Bob Perks’ life and passion for Penn State football, all while aiding local families in Centre, Blair, Clearfield and Huntingdon counties struggling with a cancer diagnosis.
“This presents a great opportunity for people to not only come out, watch the game and support the team, but to do it with a bunch of your friends for a great cause,” Perks says.
This year’s tailgate, sponsored by Susquehanna Bank, will be held at Mountain View Country Club on Saturday, Oct. 26 for the Penn State vs. Ohio State game. The event starts at 7 p.m., one hour before kickoff.
Newly appointed Executive Director Norma Keller says the organization always tries to choose a big game that will draw fans. Due to the rivalry between the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes, choosing this year’s game was easy.
In addition to the draw created by a big game, Keller attributes the success of the tailgate to its location; upscale tailgating food like a fajita bar, fall soups, salads, pull pork and beef sliders and squash ravioli; complimentary beverages and fun atmosphere.
“It’s where people want to come and have a great evening together,” she says. “It’s just a general fun-filled, festive atmosphere for a tailgate.”
To create more appeal and enjoyment, the tailgate also features a silent auction. Items in the silent auction -- including a Michael Mauti autographed jersey, Franco Harris autographed sports items, an autographed Pittsburgh Penguins jersey and a custom closet design from Spaces Design Center -- will help bring in a large portion of the funds raised during the night.
With last year’s event bringing in about $40,000, Keller hopes this year’s tailgate will be similar.
“We would be very, very thrilled to raise that money at the tailgate. I hope for fantastic attendance at this Ohio State game because it increases awareness of the fund and the important things that it does and it has a dramatic affect on families,” she says. “Every dollar raised at this event will be allocated to local families who are fighting cancer.”
So far this year, 207 local families have been aided by the Bob Perks Fund.
Though the Bob Perks Fund continues to be successful, Keller stresses that with more funding, the organization can help more families.
“We know there are more and more families that need help. The more money we can raise, the more we can make available to families who have applied and families that might not be aware of the fund,” Keller says.
Because many families have felt the effects of a cancer diagnosis, Perks believes the tailgate allows people the chance to make a huge impact.
“Everybody has been there. Everybody has experienced this. It hits home,” she says.
Keller says events like the tailgate allow community members who understand cancer's impact to aid those in need.
“It is more than wonderful event. It is a community event. It’s a way for people who love Penn State football to come together and have a fantastic time in fantastic location and enjoy Penn State football, she says. “All the while that they are doing that, they’re making a dramatic difference in the lives of local families.”
Click HERE for more information about the Bob Perks Fund or to RSVP for the event.
IF YOU GO
WHO: Penn State fans, alumni and those wishing to aid local cancer families
WHAT: 8th annual Bob Perks Fund Tailgate
WHERE: Mountain View Country Club
WHEN: Oct. 26, 7 p.m.
COST: $85 per person in advance/$90 per person at the door
WHY: To help the Bob Perks Fund in its mission to provide financial support for basic necessities to individuals and families dealing with cancer in local communities.