What started out as a small fundraising effort to replace a memorial sign received an overwhelming show of support in Jacksonville recently.
Since late October, local business owner John Buchanan has spearheaded a fundraising effort to replace the Jerry Symons Memorial Press Box sign at the Kraushaar-Rosenberger Football Field.
Buchanan is a longtime friend of the late Jerry Symons and decided to take on the effort after noticing the existing signage had grown tired and faded to the point of being difficult to read.
He says he knew the sign was small potatoes compared to the COVID issues District 117 is facing currently, so he thought why not get a few friends together and attempt to raise the funds for a replacement.
The initial estimate for the cost to replace the sign was approximately $900. Buchanan says the response from the community was overwhelming.
“We’ve received now $3,350 I believe is the most recent figure that has been donated. People were coming up to me in the grocery store and handing me twenty dollars and said this is for Jerry’s sign and shoved it into my pocket. I’ve never quite experienced that before. A lot of the gifts were simply anonymous. The money kept building and building and we realized we had more funds than we were going to need.”
Buchanan says the Jacksonville Public Schools Foundation has since taken charge of the fund and will continue the efforts started by friends of the late Jerry Symons.
“That’s the perfect place, it’s a tax-deductible gift. The Foundation is going to establish an account to fund in the future, any replacement of signage at any of the athletic venues throughout District 117.
Hopefully, it will take just a little bit of a burden off of the school district budget and we will get some of those things replaced and help with the curb appeal with some of the facilities. There will be almost three thousand dollars in this fund when it gets started, and it will draw a little bit of interest.”
Buchanan says anyone who feels they missed the opportunity to honor Jerry Symons or who simply has an interest in supporting the upkeep of athletic facility signs can direct their gifts to Jerry’s Sign Fund at the Jacksonville Public Schools Foundation, located at 211 West State Street.
Aaron Lomelino with Lomelino Sign Company of Jacksonville says the new Jerry Symons Press Box sign is just about ready to go, and he plans to have it installed in the coming days.