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Former Rivals Team Up to Put a Full Court Press on Cancer

Saturday, March 16, 2019 @ 12:03 AM

Posted by Blane Gold

cancerOIL CITY, Pa. (EYT) – Earlier this week, exploreVenango.com ran a story about Oil City grad, Jake Davis’ effort to “dunk” cancer in Venango County. Friday night, Davis’ event, “Oil City vs. Cancer,” took place in front of a packed gymnasium at Oil City Area High School.

(PHOTO: Jake Davis (left) is a 2010 graduate of Oil City and Devin Gold (right) is a 2010 graduate of Franklin. Davis and Gold faced each other many times on the hardwood as part of the Franklin and Oil City rivalry.)

Davis, whose motivation to hold the charity game was inspired by the passing of his childhood friend, Eric Lendrum, could not have been more happy with how the event unfolded.

“It was amazing,” Davis told exploreVenango.com. “We filled the gym. We conservatively raised $25,000. I was amazed at how the community came together for a good cause.”

As Davis caught the attention of more and more donors as the charity game approached, he also caught the attention of a local non-profit, 519Strong. 519Strong’s mission is to honor the legacy of Jeremy Coast, a 2015 Franklin Area High School graduate who passed away in 2015 after a three year battle with leukemia.

Devin Gold, chairman of of 519Strong and cancer survivor himself, has devoted himself to ensuring that Jeremy’s positive spirit while facing adversity will never be forgotten. For Gold, Jake and Eric’s relationship reminded himself of the relationship that he and Jeremy had during his battle.

“When Jake posted on Facebook what Eric said just a few days before his passing it reminded me exactly of something Jeremy would say to me,” explained Gold. “It was a message about staying positive in even the most dire of situations, including death. At that point, I reached out to Jake and introduced him to 519Strong and offered my full support.”

Eric Lendrum

This was not the first time that Davis and Gold connected, however. They are both 2010 high school graduates. Both basketball players, Gold a member of the Knights program and Davis a member of the Oilers program, regularly faced off against each other on the hardwood as rivals in the storied Franklin-Oil City rivalry. Friday night, they came together again on the Oilers’ basketball floor where they had met so many times in the past. This time though, they came together against a powerful rival that has claimed friends close to both of them.

Gold had planned to attend the event and do a t-shirt swap with Davis to signify the unification of two major cancer fighting efforts in the county. As Gold entered the gym and watched the first half of the basketball game he was blown away by what Davis had pulled off and decided he wanted to do more.

“At half time, Jake announced that the donations were going to the Kirtland Cancer Foundation and announced how much money they pour into our local community. Their mission fell directly in line with what we believe at 519Strong. At that time, I left the gym to call the other members of the 519Strong committee to get approval for a donation. I then went to Jake and and made a deal that if he was willing to do a t-shirt swap at the end of the third quarter, 519Strong would donate $5,190 to his event.”

Davis, of course, obliged.

“Devin had originally approached me on Facebook,” explained Davis. “He has always been a guy that I respected the hell out of though. Genuinely nice guy and you can tell that from a mile away. I knew he was coming, but I had no idea he was bringing the news that he did. His appearance rocked the house. I was speechless and I hope that I can return the favor.”

Both Gold and Davis are thankful for the support from the Franklin and Oil City communities.

“This past year, 519Strong was fortunate enough to partner with the A. Crivelli Auto Group and their Subaru ‘Share the Love Event,’” explained Gold. “Mr. Crivelli believed that 519Strong could be much bigger than just scholarships and wanted to help us grow so that we would be able to give back to the community on a larger scale. By donating these funds to the Kirtland Cancer Foundation, 519Strong is able to carry out that mission by helping other local families who are struggling due to cancer and other illnesses in their family.”

“I want to give a shout out to our committee that helped to bring everything together,” said Davis. “I also want to thank the community as a whole.”

“Events like this don’t happen without a community that care about each other.”


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