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Commentary: Rail City full of people using athletics to promote positive causes
by Dan Eckles
Jun 23, 2013 | 1631 views | 0 0 comments | 52 52 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A few years ago I attended a Sunday morning service at Sparks Christian Fellowship. The pastor there, Scott Parker, does a great job of sharing his message through stories about every day life. On this day, he was sharing the message we’ve all heard about how money does not buy happiness. Ultimately, it came down to the fact that life was not about money and the things you have, but about the quality of your relationships.

That hit home with me. My family does all right financially but under Parker’s premise, I’d consider us rich. We have great friends and great family who we support and support us. But it goes further than that. I think we live in a community that fosters great relationships and it certainly uses the athletics avenue to do so.

I talked to a gentleman I greatly respect recently. He is humble and works hard. He moved to the Truckee Meadows from the East Coast about a decade ago but has decided to move back. The Sparks-Reno area has never grown into his heart to feel like home. That’s where we differ. After about four years here, I was hooked and I believe that’s because of the quality of relationships I built.

Being a long-time sports writer/editor here at the Tribune, I’ve become pretty plugged into the local athletic community. I think it’s full of gracious and caring people. That old adage that you can’t go to the grocery store or out to dinner without bumping into somebody you know, has become very real for me, living here in Sparks.

The world is what you make of it. Certainly if you go looking for trouble, it finds you. However, I believe many people are innately good natured. I can just look back at athletic events the paper has covered recently that show me the good in people in the Rail City.

Friday night’s Sertoma Classic all-star football game was hosted by the Sparks Sertoma Club. The club uses the event as its major fundraiser each year to promote its causes. I’ve been a guest speaker at a Sertoma Club breakfast. I promise you that’s as good a group of folks as you’ll meet.

The Dash for Dads event that took place over Father’s Day weekend was set up to promote prostate cancer awareness. Funds raised will be used by Cancer Awareness of Nevada to help financially strapped cancer patients offset their medical expenses.

The Challengers Little League group, an organization set up to give special needs children a place to play baseball, played an exhibition game during Sparks Centennial Little League’s Championship Night two weeks ago. SCLL President Steven Howe helped the efforts to bring the group out to Golden Eagle Regional Park for the exhibition.

It was inspiring to the special needs children and their families express sheer joy just by playing some baseball. It illustrated to me, and many others who watched, that we as a society should not put up barriers when we don’t need to. In this instance, we found a way for special needs kids to experience the game just like other kids, instead of assuming they can’t.

Those are events where locals are helping other locals, and those are just a few in the last 10 days.

We’ve covered stories about high school basketball teams adopting under-privileged youths and raising money over the holidays to share Christmas gifts. I’ve seen arch rival softball programs put aside their competitive spirit to host a joint fundraising poker tournament. There’s a gentleman in Sparks referred to as Ugly Ed, who every summer uses his tennis knowledge to host free clinics for Sun Valley-area youths.

There are countless stories like these about Sparks people. You readers are some of those people and know many more.

In my time here at the Tribune as the sports editor, I’ve volunteered to lead cub scout groups on tours. I’ve read to elementary school kids and shared my time with middle and high school-age kids to talk about career opportunities.

And I’m not tooting my own horn. My efforts pale in comparison to others lending a helping hand. I just feel like I owe it back to my community for supporting me and my family.

I love the entertainment of sports. But moreover, I love the life lessons they teach: how to handle adversity, how to never give up and how to be a good teammate. Sparks has similar values and it is full of people rich in relationships. I couldn’t be happier to be part of this community.

Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune’s Managing/Sports Editor. He can be reached via email at: deckles@dailysparkstribune.com
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