MEDINA, Ohio – Another year, another record for the Meadows Turkey Bowl in Medina. The annual Thanksgiving football game in the backyard of Mike Meadows’ home on Hood Road generated $125,000 in donations.
The game has been played for 22 years. It has served as a fundraiser for eight years. The previous record for fundraising was set last year at $90,000.
Forty-eight players from four squads battled on two muddy football fields. The games are very competitive, but the players are also focused on the “game within the game,” which is celebrating the contributions for a good cause. This year, $110,000 will be given to the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
“They give the money to the needy. They have an incredible screening process where they make sure the money gets to the right people at the right time,” Meadows said.
Rookie Turkey Bowl player Joe Hurst helped to raise an additional $15,000 to benefit Jeff Thomas and his family.
Thomas, of Louisville, suffered a traumatic brain injury and has been unable to walk since he was involved in a car accident in June 2010 on state Route 44 in Portage County. Another driver ran a stop sign and slammed into the driver’s side of Thomas’ car.
Hurst was Thomas’ college roommate several years ago and wanted to help the family with medical and living expenses.
“When you’re going through a really tough time, to know that a lot of people love you and are willing to take their earnings and give them to you, is huge,” Hurst said.
Thomas’ wife, Jennifer, and two of their daughters suffered minor injuries in the accident. Doctors did not expect Jeff to survive.
“On Father’s Day a week later, they (the doctors) brought the girls and I and our families in to say goodbye because his body was shutting down,” Jennifer said. But Jeff continues to beat the odds and his progress has amazed doctors and his family. His memory is slowly improving.
“Literally, every month there is something that’s different that’s improving,” Jennifer said. When asked if he considers himself a miracle, Jeff said, “I kind of do, yeah.”
Jeff said he’s touched by the generous donations to his family and said he has plenty of reasons to be thankful on Thanksgiving.
“For God, for my wife and my family, for the support they are, and how much they love me and do stuff each day. It was so easy for that (the accident) to go badly and it didn’t. God took care of all the really hard stuff,” Jeff said.