On what was forecast to be a stormy and cold day in New York City, CaringKind’s 8th Annual NYC TackleALZ Charity football game took place at Columbia University’s Wein Stadium in upper Manhattan. Moved up to an early afternoon start to avoid expected evening thunderstorms, the rains held off for the entire afternoon allowing for a high scoring and highly competitive contest. More impressive than the 63 total points scored in the game was the $205,000 raised by the teams in support of CaringKind, New York City’s leading expert on Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiving. With over 30 years of experience, CaringKind works directly with its community partners to develop the information, tools and training to support individuals and families affected by dementia.
Unlike traditional football rivalries, the TackleALZ annual football contest does not pit teams against each other based on nationalistic, geographic or collegiate rivalries but on something more visceral – Blondes vs Brunettes! The players are all women, the coaches are mostly men. Last year’s contest was won by the blondes, team named BlondeTourage, and the fair-haired crew arrived for this year’s battle having held NYC’s bragging rights since claiming victory last May. But, as New York’s Yankees, Knicks, Rangers and Giants well know, New York is not the place for dynasties and this year’s contest went to the brunettes, the BruCrew. The series record now stand at Blondetourage 2, BruCrew 6.
Perhaps setting the stage for the final outcome, the BruCrew scored first, approximately 5 minutes into the first quarter. Not content to see their bragging rights taken away, the BlondeTourage fought back and, the contest see-sawed back and forth to end the first half with a 13-13 tie. As the second half unfolded, the BruCrew began to pull away, ending the 3rd quarter with a 25-13 advantage and then turning it on to end the game with a 38-25 victory.
Above: OBJ's got nothing on the sticky hands and and one-handed grabs of the BruCrew and BlondeTourage receivers
Make no mistake about it, the participants in the NYC TackleALZ tag football tournament are serious and accomplished athletes, many having participated in collegiate sports and many still active athletic participants. On hand to watch the game and to participate in the half-time ceremonies were former collegiate football standouts and NFL veterans Dan Upperco and Bobby Sewall. A former tight end with the NFL’s Los Angeles Raiders, returning to Columbia’s athletic complex on 218th Street was a special event for Upperco. It was on this very gridiron that Dan played his collegiate football and having completed 16 touchdowns, 107 receptions, 1,587 receiving yards and averaging over 35 catches and over 500 yards during each of his three varsity years. Among his accomplishments at Columbia, Dan was named the All-Ivy League multiple times and Columbia’s MVP during his senior year. He remains active in the NFL’s Retired Player’s Association. Given that pedigree, it comes as quite a compliment that, in reflecting on the level of play and the charitable cause, Dan tells us that, “I expected a good level of play at the TackleALZ NYC women’s flag football game, however, I was impressed with the passion, command of the game and athleticism demonstrated. It was very entertaining and the efforts put forth by all who participated and supported the day deserve a lot of credit in helping find a cure for this disease. A number of us former players from the NFL Retired Players Association - NY/NJ Chapter are always happy to join the TackleALZ NYC team in supporting this worthy cause”.
Above: Former collegiate standouts and NFL players, Dan Upperco (Raiders cap) and Bobby Sewall (Yankees cap) on hand to distribute half-time awards
Also on hand to take in the game was former NFL, CFL and Arena Football player Bobby Sewall. Like Dan Upperco, Sewall was also an Ivy League standout during his collegiate career playing at Brown University. During his tenure at Brown, Sewall scored more points than any other Ivy League player during that period. His record of 18 catches in one game was best in the nation.
Above: The BruCrew puts it away with an acrobatic catch and sprint to goal
Approximately 5.4 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive and irreversible brain disorder most notably characterized by memory loss and dementia. CaringKind, formerly known as the New York City Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, is New York City’s leading expert on Alzheimer’s and dementia caregiving. With over 30 years of experience, CaringKind works directly with its community partners to develop the information, tools and training to support individuals and families affected by dementia. Lou-Ellen Barkan, President and CEO of CaringKind, said, “While these teams battle each other fiercely on the field, off the field they’re all on the same team – fiercely battling Alzheimer’s and dementia. Most of these young leaders have a personal connection to the cause, and we are so grateful for their dedication and determination.”
For information about making your contribution or to learn more about CaringKind’s programs and services which are available free of charge to New Yorkers who need them, visit their website at www.caringkindnyc.org
In dedication to Morris, Compton and Ernie