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There'll be a golf tournament, along with the Oregon City vs. West Linn alumni football game, and Town & Country Honda has signed on as 'title sponsor'

by: JOHN DENNY - Oregon City High School alumnus Jon Hummel (left) and West Linn alumnus Dave Norman get acquainted with Rylee Ferro as they gear up for the 2014 Battle for the Bridge. Rylee, who was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis shortly after birth, will be the honorary captain for Oregon City at this years Battle for the Bridge Oregon City vs. West Linn alumni football game. Battle for the Bridge has added a golf tournament to this years festivities, which benefit the Oregon chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.Organizers are gearing up for this year’s “Battle for the Bridge” Oregon City vs. West Linn alumni football game and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation fundraiser. Plans are to make the fundraiser the biggest ever.

“We want to do double what we did last year,” says Dave Norman, who is chairman of this year’s fourth annual Battle. “Our goal is $50,000.”

Organizers have a good start to this year’s “Battle.” For the first time in the four-year history of the event there is a “title sponsor.” Town & Country Honda in Gladstone has signed on as the title sponsor with a $5,000 contribution.

The main draw for the fourth annual Battle for the Bridge will still be the alumni football game between rivals from Oregon City and West Linn high schools. This year’s game will be contested on Saturday, Aug. 16, with kickoff at 7 p.m. in the Oregon City stadium.

An added attraction this year is a “Battle” Golf Tournament, scheduled for Saturday afternoon, Aug. 2, at Stone Creek Golf Club.

“We wanted to give people who don’t get particularly excited about football a chance to get involved and contribute to a good cause,” said Norman.

Cost for participating in the golf tournament is $125 per individual or $400 per foursome, with all proceeds going to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The entry fee covers 18 holes of golf, range balls, a golf cart and a silent auction.

“It’ll be limited to the first 155 to sign up, and we hope to fill up by mid-July,” Norman said.

The Battle for the Bridge alumni football game has raised close to $60,000 for the Oregon chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in its first three years.

The money has come from sponsorships, game program advertising and donations, as well as from ticket sales.

To sign up for sponsorships, purchase an advertisement in the program, register for the golf tournament, purchase a ticket to the game, volunteer, make a donation, or find out more about Cystic Fibrosis, visit the website at www.battleforthebridge.com; or contact Dave Norman at 503-407-2444.

“We’re so grateful to [the Battle for the Bridge organizers] and everyone involved,” said Johnie Ferro, whose young daughter Rylee was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis just days after her birth in March of 2013. “They are doing some really amazing things through research. The life expectancy for someone with Cystic Fibrosis is currently age 32 to 38, and it’s doubled in just the last 15 years. They have gene specific trials going on right now. They are so close to finding a cure. They’re not there yet, but they are getting there. And even if they don’t find a cure they’re doing some some stuff that could be really life-changing and make a huge difference in quality of life for kids like Rylee.”

Rylee Ferro will be an honorary team captain for Oregon City’s football team for this year’s Battle for the Bridge alumni game.

Johnie, whose husband Eric Ferro graduated from Oregon City High School in 2000, noted that Cystic Fibrosis is a disease that receives very little federal funding. So she says that every dollar generated through fundraisers like the Battle for the Bridge is important in funding research to find a cure.

“Rylee has a twin brother, Gage, and he does not have Cystic Fibrosis,” Ferro said. “When they were born, both Rylee and Gage appeared perfectly healthy. But then Rylee couldn’t keep her food down. She kept throwing up — a lot.”

Rylee was taken from Willamette Falls Hospital, where she was born, to the St. Vincent Hospital neonatal intensive care unit in Beaverton, where they did blood work. And eight days later she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis.

“Newborn screening is relatively new in Oregon,” Ferro said. “It made it possible for treatment to begin right away. Funding research is so important. It’s making a difference.”

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease and one in 30 people in the U.S. are carriers of the defective gene that causes the disease. Children pass on the gene as carriers, but they cannot get the disease unless both of their parents are carriers.

“When I first got involved in the inaugural Battle for the Bridge, I did it purely for the thrill of playing football one more time,” Norman said. “Now that I’m playing in my fourth game I’ve come to see that this game is about something bigger than personal glory. It’s about community, brotherhood and standing shoulder to shoulder with players, volunteers, sponsors and our community to defeat Cystic Fibrosis. I’m proud to play a part in it.”

“Initially I played [in the alumni game] for the camaraderie,” said Oregon City alumnus Jon Hummel, who will be playing in his fourth Battle alumni football game this year. “There was a period where we didn’t have any kind of alumni game. I thought it was kind of cool, going against West Linn and renewing the rivalry.

“Now that I have my own young kids, my heart goes out to kids like Rylee and her parents, and all that they’re going through. It makes you want to be an advocate for the disease and do everything you can to help fund research to find a cure....

“Just playing in the game and getting together with old friends, playing against your rival is a lot of fun. Raising money for a good cause is an added bonus.”

“To me, it’s much more than a football game,” said Justin Fisher, who, with Norman, is one of the main organizers. “It’s an opportunity to reconnect with many generations of Oregon City graduates. Building community, getting together and having some fun. It’s about community.”

And of course there’s bragging rights to the Battle for the Bridge trophy. Oregon City holds a 2-1 edge in the “Battle,” having won the alumni game 23-14 in 2011 and 16-15 last August. West Linn prevailed 36-35 in 2012.

“I encourage young guys in college and new graduates to be a part of our alumni team,” said Fisher. “It’s so important for generations [of Oregon City graduates] to keep in touch. It’s building community. If money is a problem. If they can’t afford the [player] registration fee, it needn’t be a problem. We’ll find a way to cover the fee so that you can play.”

The player registration fee is $95. Players for Oregon City and West Linn alumni teams can sign up at www.alumniiathleticsusa.com.

Oregon City and West Linn alumni will begin practices for the big game in early July. Oregon City will practice from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, beginning July 7, at the high school stadium.

West Linn is holding practices from 7 to 9 p.m. on Sundays and Wednesdays, beginning July 9, at Rosemont Ridge Middle School.

For additional information, Oregon City alumni can contact Fisher at 503-720-0861; for additional information, West Linn alumni can contact Norman at 503-407-2444.

Any graduate of Oregon City or West Linn High School is eligible to take part in the alumni football game, and the golf tournament is open to anyone who enjoys playing golf and would like to help out with a worthy cause.

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