Dodgeball fundraiser keeps community #BODENSTRONG

Dodgeball+fundraiser+keeps+community+%23BODENSTRONG

With the blow of a whistle, two teams of students race toward the center of the indoor field, trying to claim the rubber balls waiting there for their side. Although the players are aiming to win first place, this isn’t just an ordinary dodgeball tournament: they’re also competing to show their support for freshman Boden Miller.

On Aug. 31, Miller broke his neck and suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury while playing catch with his brother and cousins on a trampoline. The injury initially left him without feeling from the neck down. He has since undergone multiple medical procedures, and the severity of the accident has led to high expenses including healthcare and rehabilitation. However, thanks to the support of his family, friends and the T/E community, over $171,000 has been raised for Miller through community donations, local business events and fundraisers, including the recent youth dodgeball competition.

Organized by local fitness studio C4 Performance, the event was held on Nov. 26 at Steelyard Sports in King of Prussia, who partnered with C4 and offered its indoor sports complex as a venue. For a donation of $50 dollars per team, students 3rd through 12th grade could register in groups of five to compete in one of three simultaneous dodgeball tournaments divided by age. All proceeds made from the event, including pizza and drink sales, went to the Miller family.

C4 Performance coach Mike McGee, one of the fundraiser’s lead organizers and a family friend of the Millers, believes the night was a great success and hopes to organize similar events in the future.

“We raised $1,250 dollars, and there were a little over 120 kids. I think everything went really well, I got a lot of good feedback from parents and the kids seemed to have a lot of fun and that’s the bottom line. On (C4’s) part, we want to do something like this every year with a fundraiser for a family in need to give back to the community,” McGee said.

McGee is thankful to the people who have been attending fundraising events such as the Turkey Trot 5K charity race, which was sponsored by Seven Summits Physical Therapy, a local business run by the O’Mara family, and the dodgeball tournament, as well as the local community for their ongoing contributions of time, money and support.

“That’s the beauty of this area. If somebody is down and out, people will jump through hoops to help them. I’d really just like to thank everybody who offered to help, who showed up and took time out of their busy holiday weekend to show their support for one of their own,” McGee said.

According to McGee, Miller’s recovery is going well, and he will begin rehabilitative training at C4 after finishing his current course of physical therapy.

In addition to the dodgeball tournament and Turkey Trot 5K, local businesses American Nails and Rita’s Water Ice in Paoli contributed 10 percent and 15 percent, respectively, of their Oct. 1 profits to the campaign. Bulldog Yoga Studio in Villanova also held an event in honor of Miller. Miller’s online campaign page in partnership with the nonprofit organization Help Hope Live continues to receive donations on a near-daily basis.

Some of Miller’s friends have brought his campaign directly to Conestoga by leading “#BODENSTRONG” wristband sales at school events, most notably at the homecoming game in September, which raised over $4,000. Freshman Drew Merschel is a close friend of Miller’s, and has actively participated in the wristband campaign, as well as the dodgeball tournament.

“I try to be involved as much as I can. It was hard at first though, because no one really expected (the injury) to happen and we were all in shock, but thanks so much (to the community) for all the help and support. Boden really appreciates it, and so does his family,” Merschel said.

Freshman Gabby Ridder also participated in the wristband campaign, and agrees that the local community’s support of Miller has been incredibly valuable. 

“It’s amazing to see the love and support from Conestoga students and our community. It made me so happy to see so many people wearing the wristbands,” Ridder said.

Miller’s mother, Karen Miller, is especially thankful to the school communities, both in T/E and in Upper Dublin where she works, who have been supporting Boden, from his initial injury and through his ongoing recovery.

“We are forever grateful for all of the love, prayers and support of our community,” she said, “and Boden’s recovery has been amazing. With hard work and determination, he has fought through the physical and emotional pain of having a spinal cord injury. He is still in (physical) therapy for the foreseeable future, and while he’s currently being taught at home through tutoring, he hopes to return to Conestoga in the second semester.”

While there aren’t any upcoming fundraising events for Miller, anyone who would like to make a contribution can do so by donating to the Boden J. Miller campaign at helphopelive.org.