Games to benefit Sandy FFA

Eight elite, high-performance athletes will converge in Sandy on Friday to play a game for the ages. Their legendary names are known to throngs of fans and admirers: Simple Simon, Milton Berle, Casper the friendly Donkey,, the Donkey formerly known as Prince, Calamity Jane, Rebate and perhaps the most famous of them all, Pedro.

Yep, it's donkey basketball time.

The four-legged hoopsters return for the annual fund-raiser for the Sandy FFA - the local chapter of the agricultural education organization - with proceeds marked to help students attend state and national competitions. Donkey basketball proved in the past that it can be a hilarious and delightful way to raise money for the chapter.

'It's very funny and interesting to watch,' said FFA adviser Trisha Dunn. 'The donkeys are hardly ever cooperative.'

Ten local teams with four riders will vie for the donkey basketball championship and bragging rights for the next year. Each team must jockey their donkeys, clad in rubber shoes to protect the floor, and score as many baskets as possible in six-minute games. The two highest-scoring teams then play in the championship game.

'Every game has something in it that's pretty funny,' said Bruce Wick, owner of Donkey Sports, a Washington company that provides the donkeys. 'I wish I had all that stuff on video tape; I could make a collection.'

'It is much more difficult than you think,' said Sandy businessman Les Geren, who will work as a spotter at the game. 'You can't get them to do what you want. The art is making what they don't want to do your success.

Dunn said 150 people attended last year's event, which raised approximately $2,000 for the FFA, and organizers hope for an even better turnout this year.

The Sandy FFA had numerous success stories at the state and national conventions last year, including two American FFA degrees and the national champion in creed speaking, Tyrel Meader. Convention experiences are always memorable ones for students who participate.

'At the state level, which is what most people see, it puts it on a (larger) scale,' said chapter President Sean Chambers. 'Upwards of 10,000 jackets in the same room; it's kind of a shock for first-timers.'

Some unlucky FFA members, however, may have to keep the excitement of potential conventions in mind Friday during donkey basketball when they perform one of the less enjoyable jobs of the event. Donkeys bring more than just good times and laughs for the evening; they also leave a little something behind.

'It's usually quite embarrassing (for students) to pick up poop off the gym floor,' Dunn said. 'But it's a necessity.'

Donkey basketball begins at 7 p.m. Friday, April 6, in Gym A at the high school, 17100 S.E. Bluff Road.

Pre-sold tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for students ages 7 to 12 and $4 for ages 5 and 6; gate tickets are $7 for adults, $6 for students and $5 for children.

Tickets may be purchased by calling 503-668-8011, ext. 245. There also will be a silent auction, live auction and a 50/50 raffle.

For more information, call 503-668-8011, ext. 254 and ask for adviser Trisha Dunn or chapter President Sean Chambers.

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