Cabrini University hosted this year’s American Boy fall brawl on Oct. 23. The lacrosse team played a round of games against Stockton University and Elizabethtown College. These games were used merely as an evaluation tool for the Cabrini Cavaliers lacrosse team, with the main focus being on the fundraising for the American Boy foundation.
The American Boy foundation was founded after the Megale family suffered the loss of their son, Matt, to a drug overdose in 2017. The foundation started the fall brawl lacrosse tournament back in 2019 as a fundraising event for the numerous scholarships they offer to those suffering from addiction. American Boy aims to address three major challenges in the recovery process, finances for treatment after the 28 days covered by insurance. The lack of credible treatment centers and educational scholarships for those who continue with treatment.
“The Megale family is not doing this for money,” Steve Colfer, head coach, said. “They are doing this foundation because they can see the impact it can potentially create for another family so they do not have to feel the same loss.”
With assistance from this foundation, those suffering are able to get the help they need to maintain sobriety and receive an education or job training for their future.
According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, 31.9 million Americans ,ages 12 and older currently use illegal drugs. Of that number, there are 70,000 deaths annually to drug overdoses. The mission of the American Boy foundation is to be a resource for families and loved ones of those struggling with addiction and substance abuse.
Every member of the team had a goal to raise $200 each for this fundraiser and many exceeded that amount. River Harper, senior attack position, was able to network enough to raise $3,500 alone. The lacrosse team was aiming to raise $10,000 and ended up escalating that to about $20,000 which equates to roughly two scholarships.
“I was able to exceed my goal by reaching out to high-quality potential donors,” Harper said. “I made it personal by sharing with them how extended treatment past 28 days not only saved my life but allowed my life to flourish in ways I never could have imagined.”
An organization like American Boy that is fighting addiction means a lot to the Cavaliers lacrosse team since lost one of their own, Jake Durkin, to substance abuse back in 2016. Harper also felt a connection with American Boy since he has struggled with substance abuse in his past.
Once he learned the fundraising was for the American Boy charity he immediately knew the importance of this event. From his experience, Harper knows that 28 days in treatment is not enough and he was going to do whatever it took to amplify his fundraising.
“I knew the importance of extended treatment and knowing that all the money collected would be going straight into scholarships for those seeking addiction recovery that may not have the resources to continue their treatment past the typical 28 days really struck me,” Harper said. “Many people with the desire to get sober do not have the assistance in creating a strong foundation of sobriety needed.”
With so many members on the team able to raise the amount of money for nearly two scholarships, Harper said how proud he was to be on the team with so many willing to put in the effort to raise money for a life-saving cause.
During the event, the family of former player, Durkin, was in attendance and the American Boy foundation named a scholarship in his honor. It was a very emotional moment for the team and coaches.
A youth clinic was held before the fall brawl event with members of the community who could sign up to come to Cabrini and play with the team before the games. The younger players were then invited to stay to watch the games against Stockton and Elizabethtown. The youth clinic demonstrated the importance of teaching, engaging and passing on skills to the next generation of lacrosse players. There is a responsibility to expose and educate this younger generation to the realities of addiction and bring awareness to this issue.
“We don’t want to scare them but I also think it is important to have these tough conversations especially with young men who play an aggressive sport like lacrosse,” Colfer said.
“Education, real talk and awareness is the best weapon to help these young men navigate the tough years of middle, high school and college.” Colfer said.
Fall is used as a tool to see the progress of the lacrosse team before the season begins and the wins and losses of the fall brawl event do not count against the teams. The Cavaliers will be taking the experience from this event to show where they can improve for Jan, when practices begin for the season.