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RMS football to benefit from FCCDC grant

“When you’re outfitting a middle school football player, you’re looking at $400-500 per child.”

With that reality in mind, Coach Larry Gilmer expressed his appreciation for a recent $1,500 grant from the Franklin County Community Development Commission.

“We’re going to use it to help recondition our helmets,” Gilmer said – a task RMS has to undertake each year. “You want to make sure they are all safe,” Gilmer said. Any helmets determined, through reconditioning, to be unsafe must be replaced. Gilmer said some of the grant might also go toward the purchase of new footballs (at $40-50 apiece), new girdles, new mouthpieces and refurbishing shoulder pads.

“It’s just runs up to a lot of money,” said Gilmer, who has 83 students in the middle school football program this year, between seventh and eighth grades. “This money – hallelujah, I’m so proud and thankful … This is going to be wonderful to help us out.”

Gilmer thanked Coach Mark Heaton for his continued support of the middle school football program, but he said the middle school always tries to help support themselves through fundraisers and grants. The program has been awarded an FCCDC grant the past three or four years. “Every year we get it, we use it,” Gilmer said. “This money is lifesaving. It really helps us.”

FCCDC board member Brand Bolton, who represents Sen. Larry Stutts on the FCCDC, said the commission was glad to be able to support Gilmer’s efforts to provide safe and effective equipment for his young athletes. Of considerable focus is concussion prevention.

“Larry Gilmer is continually updating the football equipment, and when he wrote his grant letter, he talked about how their helmets are old and dated,” Bolton said. “These kids, with concussions being such a big issue, he wants to keep his kids in the same helmet a pro athlete would wear.”

The next meeting of the FCCDC will be held Nov. 18 at 8:30 a.m. at the Franklin County Commission office at the courthouse annex in Russellville to consider grants from September, October and November. All grant requests must be submitted by Nov. 11 at noon for consideration at the November meeting.

Bolton also expressed the FCCDC’s appreciation to Russellville Mayor David Grissom for his efforts as part of the commission for the past two years. With Grissom’s two-year term ended, the next mayoral representative will be the mayor of Red Bay, who will be elected following the Oct. 4 run-off.