---- — Tossing a rugby ball, Andover High School senior Sam Kefferstan was happy to join youth center supporters as they gear up for the annual telethon to raise money for the project.
A rugby player, he knew there was no rugby team at AHS. So, he and other teen rugby players approached Andover Youth Services for help a few years back. Now, there is an AYS-supported rugby team in town and Kefferstan is a proud team member.
“If not for AYS, there would be no rugby team. We went to them for support and they were great,” Kefferstan said.
AYS helped get a schedule and fields for rugby games and practices.
AYS has helped start or restart other teams, including lacrosse, wresting and Ultimate frisbee and a variety of other programs from the Keep It Wild fashion show for young designers to a skate park where dramatic performances and a Christmas tree lot are sometimes held.
Kefferstan was among some 50 teens who turned out Monday, March 11, after school at the future site of the Cormier Family Youth Center behind Doherty Middle School. The teens represented various AYS programs, including rugby, lacrosse and Ultimate Frisbee. They gathered to get the word out about the two-day AYS Telethon fundraiser, which starts tonight, Thursday, March 14 (see sidebar).
Many AHS seniors were in the crowd and said they are thrilled to be graduating in the same year as the new youth center could break ground. Groundbreaking is scheduled for the summer, assuming enough money is raised and two votes are approved at Town Meeting. The teens may be too old to use the youth center by the time it is built, but they wanted to support the “little kids of today who will use it,” said Bryan Sutherland, another AHS senior.
AYS Director Bill Fahey hopes this year is his last telethon, which has been held annually for years.
“Our theme is the finish line. We are so close to that finish line...it’s been a long time,” Fahey said.
It’s been 20 years of dreaming, but not giving up, he said. AYS pledged to raise $2.2 million for the new youth center and is about $200,000 short, Fahey said. He hopes the telethon fundraiser brings in $100,000 to $120,000.
“Andover is generous, always has been. We can do this,” Fahey said.
As usual, telethon talent includes performances by Mr. AHS contestants, town and high school sports teams, dance troupes, choirs, bands, dancers and a wing-eating contest. Performances are given as pledges are called in.
Special guest hosts - town officials, local business owners, Andover High School coaches - will help host the event.
AHS basketball Dave Fazio will be there as he is a strong AYS supporter.
“It’s been a long time for Billy and I support him,”Fazio said. “This youth center will keep kids busy and they won’t be hanging around doing nothing...we need this.”
THE FINISH LINE TELETHON :WHAT: Andover Youth Foundation and Andover Youth Services will host the AYS Telethon fundraiser. WHEN: Tonight, Thursday, March 14, starting at 7 p.m. and tomorrow, Friday, March 15, starting at 7 p.m. TO DONATE MONEY: Watch and call 978-470-0698 or 978-470-1847 to make a donation live on the Telethon. ONLINE AUCTION, TOO: highlights range from sports camps (including Hooptown), Bruins tickets, a snowboard and a cruise to Bermuda. Go to BiddingforGood/AYS. :TELETHON IS LIVE: from the Collins Center, being shown on Andover Access TV - Comcast channel 8, Verizon channel 47, internet stream on AndoverTV.org.