Local all-stars help kids at bowl game
target shopping


As a linebacker for T.L. Hanna High School, Jake Curtis know how to pick up on tendencies of opposing offenses. He applied a similar skill while guiding nine-year-old Ramya Stephens through the aisles of a Target store a few weeks before Christmas.

"It was a little hard, but she kind of did her own thing," Curtis says of assisting a young girl find the things on her wish list. "We just followed her around. She got everything she wanted, for sure."

Stephens was one of 44 deserving students from Myrtle Beach Elementary School treated to a Christmas shopping spree at a Target store in Myrtle Beach. She was matched up with all-star football players from both the North and South squads, who were set to face off in the annual Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl later that week. Curtis, Jamie Downing of Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School and Jack Stevens of North Augusta High School ushered Stephens around the store, making sure she could find most of the items on her list - leggings, jeans, a purple jacket and some Nike shoes. The shopping squads were equipped with a $150 gift card provided by South Carolina's electric cooperatives, including Blue Ridge Electric.

"It makes you feel good to hopefully make some kids' Christmases," says Curtis. "It really gives you an insight into someone else's life and helps you connect with younger kids that don't have as much."

The shopping spree was part of a full week of experiences for the 88 players participating in the annual all-star game at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium on Dec. 9. The night before, the players were given the opportunity to take a tethered ride in the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives hot air balloon. They also got to explore careers as lineworkers through hands-on demonstrations presented by a crew from Horry Electric Cooperative.

For Curtis' T.L. Hanna teammate, offensive lineman Chase Gregorek, the Lineman Demo experience was unfamiliar, but intriguing.

"I didn't know what to expect and didn't know anything about it," says Gregorek of the type of work electric cooperative linemen do. "But it was definitely cool and after seeing it, it's something I might want to look into."

Other local players participating in the game included Daniel High School defensive lineman Jaedyn Young and Westside High School wide receiver Josh Williams, who caught two passes for 14 yards for the North.

The South won the game at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium in Myrtle Beach 28-8