I got a nice letter from John in Woodburn over the weekend I thought I'd share. It regards the Blazersedge Night at the Garden we had last fall and what came of it. Enjoy.
Well, long story short, the idea grew from there and five of us ended up forming the Woodburn Alumni Rewards Foundation. The W.A.R.F. is a non-profit that focuses on raising funds to offer the students of Woodburn High School out of classroom experiences and incentives to get them engaged in the classroom and the community. Our first project, of course, was to send some deserving kids to a Blazer game! Since we're all die hard fans, we were all especially excited about this inaugural event.
We worked with the Blazers organization (Kevin Duplaga and Joe Isse are great guys!) and arranged for 200 level tickets for 20 students (and ourselves of course!). We raised the money and one of our founders, Andy Beyer (a teacher at the high school), came up with a great system for selecting students. To qualify for the raffle of the 20 tickets, each student had to have a flawless attendance record and no behavior referrals for an entire month. Flawless attendance included not having a single tardy to a single class!
Our original intention was geared towards making the criteria attainable to all students. The students just had to put out the effort. The incentive worked better than I think any of us had intended! The event allowed the students early access to the pregame warm ups, Steve Blake bobble heads, and some free "Return to Rip City" t-shirts we designed. The response was tremendous! Throughout the school, during the month we conducted the project, we saw a 38% decrease in unexcused absences, a 44% decrease in tardies, and a 27% decrease in referrals. Overall we saw a 53% increase in the number of students that were eligible to go to the Blazer game compared to the number that would have been eligible with no incentive!
One of the teachers, Chelsea Frankovich, stated that "For the first time I saw other students trying to help their friends get to class so they might be able to go to the Blazer game together." Another teacher, Steve Curtis, said "I was really impressed with how excited my students got over the Blazer game. It was good to see students who only had one tardy upset with themselves."
Verdict: Kids love our Trailblazers!
And let me tell you, those kids that got selected had a blast (almost as much as us founders did). The Trailblazer organization did a great job of making it a memorable night for our group. Those kids are likely to be Blazer fans for life. The staff and the players proved they are definitely community oriented. We were especially taken aback by how many autographs the players signed. Every player that came out of the tunnel made an effort to sign autographs for EVERY kid! Our kids had everything they owned covered in signatures. Webster and Jack must have stopped for 10-15 minutes each to make sure they got as many as they could! The kids were in heaven!
On the way out of the Rose Garden, after the victory, a student was overheard telling her friend "I guess it does pay to go to class." That sealed it for us. The Portland Trailblazers are going to be a big part of the Woodburn Alumni Rewards Foundation's future. Just imagine how those attendance numbers will go up when we get Oden back!
In conclusion, I just wanted to help confirm what we've known all season: This is a great time to be a Blazer fan.
Of course this community hardly invented the idea of doing nice things, not even in the sense of helping kids go to Blazer games. Folks were doing that when most of us were still knee high to a chicken or as yet unthought-of. But it's wonderful that John got the idea to do this, in part because of all of you and what you gave last fall. Thank you all for making this a great place and Blazer fandom even more wonderful to be a part of.