Friday, September 18, 2020

Pandemic impairs Athletic Boosters fundraising

By Ed Pierce

Members of the Windham Raymond Athletic
Boosters meet up during a prep football game
at Windham High School last fall. From left are
Sarah Elliott, Laurie Palow, Barb Maurais,
and Allision Talon. COVID-19 has
hampered fundraising efforts this year for the
boosters, who are appealing to the public for
financial support to help pay for programs and
initiatives that benefit WHS student-athletes.

An organization that has championed student-athletes at Windham High School is feeling the crushing downturn of the pandemic and is appealing to the community for assistance.

The Windham Raymond Athletic Boosters, made up of parent volunteers, has worked closely with the Windham High School Athletic Department for years in recognizing student-athletes and Windham teams, paying for items not included in the school budget through an array of popular fundraising projects and events. But the lingering effects of COVID-19 are hurting those efforts significantly.

“This is going to be a tough year for us,” said Shelly Afthim, Windham Raymond Athletic Boosters president. “We’re going to have to find new ways to fundraise. If not, this will hurt our program for years to come.”

Typically, the boosters staff a booth at Summerfest, sell concessions at summer track meets, offer a booster club card to the public for discounted Windham High School football game admissions and host a Holiday Craft Fair among fundraising projects, but all of those initiatives have come up short this year, thanks to the pandemic. The craft fair will still be held this year, but it will only be virtual.

“Every opportunity we have to make money this year has not worked out and we need the community to rally around us more than ever before,” Afthim said.  

Some of the programs that the boosters have paid for recently include enrichments for every team every season every year; paying for special guest speakers to talk to student-athletes; renting space at the University of Southern Maine for training; buying new cheering mats; purchasing new girls’ soccer uniforms, new baseball uniforms and girls’ field hockey uniforms; turf rental at Saint Joseph’s College for cross country and lacrosse teams, creating new dugouts for softball; and purchasing a new scoreboard for baseball.

Afthim said boosters also have bought flowers for graduating senior athletes, purchased deck jackets for teams and created a new shelter for the school’s track team. They also award four $500 college scholarships every year to Windham High graduates, with two for boys and two for girls.

“The boosters are vital to the student-athlete’s experience at Windham High School. In any given season the boosters play a vital role in our program’s success and continued growth,” said Rich Drummond, Windham High School athletic director. “The boosters provide necessities over and beyond the school athletic budget that help enhance the athletic experience. These are items that are needs and

not wants and the ability to lean on them is a huge piece of mind.”

Drummond said he has served as an athletic director for more than 20 years in Southern Maine at three large schools and what the Windham/Raymond Boosters do to support the athletes in this district is unmatched. 

“They make sound decisions that benefit all kids and all teams and always have the best interest for all involved at the forefront of every decision,” Drummond said.

Afthim said she originally wanted to join the boosters when one of her children started to attend Windham High School and play on a school sports team.

“I wanted to make a difference because there are so many positives in sports,” she said. “Student-athletes learn social skills, leadership, establish friendships and must do well academically to stay eligible to compete in sports. We feel it’s an honor to play for Windham High School.” 

Former football standout Anthony Gugliuzza graduated from Windham High School in June and is now attending Endicott College in Massachusetts. He says he will always be grateful to the Windham Raymond Athletic Boosters for what they did for student-athletes like him.

“The Windham Boosters program did a lot over the course of my four years at Windham High School to positively impact the experience of my teammates and I,” Gugliuzza said. “Whether it was providing us with a coach bus to away games in Bangor, throwing pizza parties for teams that made the playoffs, or giving us seniors a cording ceremony in the midst of a pandemic, the Windham Booster Program has never failed to show how much they truly care about their athletes.”

He said he’s actually had the amazing opportunity to connect with some of the people in charge of the boosters program and said they are absolutely phenomenal.

“Everyone involved with Windham athletics is so thoughtful and down to earth that it would be a mistake not to look back at my time in Windham with anything but fondness and love,” Gugliuzza said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for the booster program, because at the end of the day they played an influential role in four unbelievable years of high school sports that I will never forget.”

Afthim said to try and salvage fundraising efforts, the boosters have launched a Go Fund Me Page and

is asking anyone who can do so to donate to this worthwhile cause. The Windham Raymond Athletic Boosters are certified as a 501©3 organization and all donations are tax-deductible.

The Windham Raymond Athletic Boosters Go Fund Me link is at

“And if anyone would prefer to pay by check, they can mail it to WRAB PO Box 617 Windham, ME 04062,” Afthim said. “No amount is too small and we are grateful for any amount donated.”

To help the Windham Raymond Boosters continue their efforts this school year, The Windham Eagle newspaper is donating $330 raised from this week’s newspaper advertising sales to this worthy organization, said Melissa Carter, Windham Eagle Sales Manager.

Carter said she encourages everyone to support advertisers who contributed to this initiative. <

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