What is “The Gerry Bertier #42 Foundation”
Remember the high school football team that overcame racism amidst the blare of civil rights riots and stadiums of cheering fans? Remember the players’ sweat drenching the grass beneath them during intensive training to win the state championship? Remember the tragedy of Gerry Bertier, Virginia’s first high school All-American football player, who in an instant was left unable to ever walk again? For many, remembering the Titans and their defensive leader’s car accident is easy after watching the Disney adaptation of their story. But the years left untouched by the film “Remember the Titans” are just as remarkable, with Bertier winning gold medals in the Wheelchair Olympics, ensuring handicapped access throughout Alexandria and helping those recently paralyzed and with depression until his death in 1981.
Gerry’s foundation started in mid 2005. It’s hard to believe that the foundation began just a few years ago with only four family members, unsure of where to begin. The foundation became an official 501c (3) in January 2006. Thanks to the dedication and support of many individuals (our volunteers, of which there are more than 60, original Titans and Coaches, family members) and companies like The Free Lance-Star, Merrill Lynch, The Anderson Company, we have been able to raise over $150,000 (including matching funds from the endowment set up at VCU) to give to Virginia Commonwealth University Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Rehabilitation and Research Center.
It all started with an e-mail in 2005, when Gerry’s sister, Becky Britt, and mother Jean Bertier Agnew decided to raise awareness for SCI and continue Gerry’s own efforts in helping those with physical disabilities. Dr. William McKinley from VCU answered the call and 100% of the funds raised go toward anything that assists research and technology or the equipment for both research and clinical care for spinal cord injury patients.
How Funds Are Raised
The main fundraiser The Annual Gerry Bertier #42 Golf Tournament was the idea of Buck Sutton. Buck is married to Bertier’s first cousin.
We started in a tent at Cannon Ridge Golf Club in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Their clubhouse has since been built and Cannon Ridge has hosted our annual golf tournament for the past 6 years. Their support has been tremendous. We’ve been fortunate to have some celebrities show up for us such as former Redskins, Cowboys, Ryan Hurst (Gerry) and Earl Poitier (Blue) from the movie “Remember the Titans.”
Some years on Friday evening prior to the golf tournament we’ve held a meet and greet autograph session with some of the original teammates and coaches of Gerry’s at a local restaurant immediately after a showing of the movie “Remember The Titans”. We can’t thank the Titans and Coach Boone and Coach Yoast enough for their willingness to support Gerry’s foundation.
Other fundraisers have included an annual national radio telethon, a yard sale, Texas Hold ’Em tournament, silent auctions, a motorcycle poker run, and local restaurant #42 spirit nights. To celebrate our 5th anniversary in 2010, we held a dinner/dance at The Fredericksburg Expo Center featuring The Fabulous Hubcaps rock and roll show band. It was such a big hit among our supporters that we continue to hold this fantastic annual event.