By Dan Woodlock
Times-Junction Sports Editor
Leave it to a group of basketball coaches to come together on one ultimate game-plan.Many of the top area high school hoops coaches have pitched in their efforts to put together a benefit dinner to help support Kathy Hirschy, who was diagnosed with early onset dementia three years ago and has battled through it since.Kathy, the wife of former Willard varsity boys head basketball coach, Dave Hirschy, is also the mother of daughters Meredith, Caroline, Emily and Abbie and had previously worked as a pharmacist at Discount Drug Mart.A number of Hirschy's former coaching colleagues have helped established the Hirschy Benefit, which will be funded by proceeds from the upcoming dinner and raffle on Saturday, August 1 at the Crawford County Fairgrounds. Among those coaches are Joe Bedingfield and Jason Robinson, Hirschy's former assistants at Willard, Dane Kennedy, an assistant coach at both Crestline and Plymouth, Mike Smith, boys head coach at St. Paul, Joe Balogh, boys head coach at Ontario, Tim Birie, who has held numerous area coaching positions, most recently at Galion, David Sheldon, boys head coach at Colonel Crawford and Jeremy Bliss, girls basketball coach at St. Paul, amongst a host of additional volunteers and contributors."I was so surprised and overwhelmed by such a tremendous act of kindness," said Dave. "These guys are life-long friends of mine who I have coached with and against for so many years."It was around Christmas time when we got the call about the guys wanting to do something nice for Kathy," he added. "I was so appreciative, but told them they didn't have to do that. But they would not take no for an answer. This benefit is just the ultimate act of kindness on their part."Hirschy noted that the meal is a barbeque dinner of either chicken or pork chops, with corn provided by Buurma Farms and side dishes provided by the 224 Varsity Club in Willard. Drinks will also be provided.The presale cost is $40 per plate and $50 at the door on the night of the dinner. There will be many items raffled off at $10 per ticket, while a silent auction for an 8000 Series Shoot-A-Way Basketball Gun, retailing at $6,000, will also be conducted.Tickets for the dinner can be purchased at the 224 Varsity Club in Willard, or online at the event's website: www.august1st.orgThe presale purchase deadline is by or before July 20.Among the many raffle prizes include an overnight stay at Kelleys Island Venture Resort and a Sectional and Ottoman from Flag City Furniture. A full list of raffle prizes and donors can be found on the event website."We're part of a special fraternity as coaches," said Hirschy. "During the season, for 32 minutes you want to beat each other pretty good out there, night in and night out. But at the end of the day, we're all in this together and truly care about each other. It's a very special thing to be a part of a group of guys that are as professional as these guys are."He noted that Kathy's fight has become a multifaceted one."Kathy's battling," said Hirschy. "Dementia comes in different forms. A lot of people associate it with memory loss, and that's part of it. But she's also battling through issues of coordination and balance. Apathy is another area she's fighting against."There are just so many ways this comes at you," he continued. "She's really hanging in there quite well, considering the trouble she's having with different movements."Doors will open at 4 p.m. and the event begins at 5:30 p.m. Additional prize donations and contributions can still be made by going online to the listed website."I just can't say enough good things about how much this means and how kind everyone has been to us," said Hirschy. "It will be such a help for Kathy's care. I'm also glad to know that the Alzheimer's Association will also benefit from the proceeds of the dinner and raffle."Bids for the silent auction can also be made online. Individuals unable to attend the dinner can still purchase raffle tickets at august1st.org.