Andrew Dys

'Cheer for Children' needs you Saturday

On a wrestling mat Tuesday afternoon, magic happened.

The magic of sharing cheers.

In an auxiliary gym at Northwestern High School, about four dozen football players gathered. The magic wand started with one guy you would expect, the football coach at Northwestern with the nickname of Moose. Jimmy "Moose" Wallace can motivate anybody to run through a brick wall.

The subject wasn't football, though. Not points scored or touchdowns.

It was something called "Cheer for Children" that will happen Saturday in Northwestern's main gym. A yearly Christmas program that started as a toy giveaway 15 years ago for needy kids by a chiropractor who saw the need and acted -- Winslow Schock.

Wallace told me earlier about how sports helped make this community great. How he had received so much in his life. And that he owed a thank you to every fan who clapped for his players. How people such as Schock give cheers and give joy and take nothing.

"It is not a sacrifice to give your time, your talent, to somebody else," Wallace told me. "It is about doing what is right. Being a servant. Letting somebody know they are cared for."

Wallace talked to these young men about all they had received. The adulation. The cheers. The attention.

'Be there'

In that gym, as quiet as any funeral, Wallace urged those young men to give to somebody else Saturday at Cheer for Children.

"Be there, be a big brother to somebody," Wallace said.

Schock took over speaking. He grabbed the magic wand. This is a man who came to Rock Hill 16 years ago not knowing a soul. The first year of Cheer for Children, he helped 15 children. He received no government money then, or ever. He spent his own money if he had to, just like now.

Schock also asked for help from anyone he knew. Which, 15 years later, is everybody. He hears "yes," he writes down a name. He hears "no," he moves on.

He still operates the same way.

This program of cheer, of giving away, over the past few years became so much more than toys. Sure, there are still hundreds of basketballs and bookbags and sweat shirts to be given out.

Now, the event has become so popular that all the tickets are gone long before Saturday. So much need is out there, with so many kids who have little or nothing to cheer about, that on Saturday at Northwestern's main gym from 10:30 to 2 p.m., 1,000 children will arrive for a program that says each matters.

In Schock's office Monday, I heard a lady sign up four kids then say, "Wow!"

Moment of a lifetime

Schock told the football players Tuesday how Cheer for Children used to be about "shiny toys that might last two weeks. Now, it's about shining moments that might last a lifetime."

Because Schock's Cheer for Children, still operated by sweat and donations hustled by himself and his wife, Glenda, is about caring. Teen athletes putting an arm around a little kid's shoulders.

There will be buses coming from York on Saturday filled with mentors. Cars in Rock Hill with mentors. Schock called them "team leaders."

Still, there are never enough "team leaders" when there are 1,000 kids.

Schock needs more.

All Schock asked from those football players was a single demand on a contract: "My signature commits me to give hope and courage to children," the contract states.

To represent team, school and community.

This guy asked if anybody who played football and had heard so many cheers was willing to sign up.

'That somebody'

From this group of about four dozen students, players who've heard the roar of crowds, 44 hands shot into the air.

"Me!" came the chorus. Those 44 signed their names.

A young man, 17 years old, named David Moore wrote his name carefully.

"I remember as a kid, my brother inspired me," Moore said. "I know what it is like to have somebody, a big brother. But what if somebody doesn't have a big brother? What if they don't have somebody? Maybe I can be that somebody."

Between now and Saturday morning, I would urge anybody who has a couple of dollars or a couple of hours, or just knows what it's like to have that big brother in sports or in math or in anything, to call 366-6100. That is Schock's office number.

Say you will sign that contract.

Show up Saturday. Help "give hope and courage" to 1,000 kids.

Be somebody.