Falcon Pride fights for lives of Freeport alumni

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FREEPORT – Falcon Pride, a charitable organization established in early 2012 to provide financial assistance to Freeport High School alumni who’ve fallen ill, is looking for players and volunteers for this year’s exhibition field hockey game, as well as its other efforts.

“We’re always looking for more alumni to join our field hockey team or…to help organizing the fundraiser,” said Becky Daniel, one of the group’s founders.

This year, Becca Thoits Puckett and Tom Bennett Sr. will benefit from Falcon Pride’s efforts. Puckett, class of ’89, is three years into her struggle with colon cancer; she lives in Buxton and is the 42-year-old single mom of two teenage boys. Bennett, class of ‘72, was recently diagnosed with aggressive Stage 3 lung cancer. A clam digger local to Freeport, he’s been unable to work since learning of his condition.

Falcon Pride is still solidifying some of the details of this year’s benefit. At present, the field hockey game is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 28. The bout will pit alumni against alumni, and/or alumni against the current FHS field hockey team, and will be played on the FHS field. Baked goods and T-shirts will be on sale at the game, and an auction and 50/50 are slated for a future, to-be-decided date at Buck’s Naked BBQ in Freeport.

Falcon Pride hatched when Jennifer Meservey Johnson initiated a Facebook conversation with Daniel and other Freeport High School alumni. Johnson had heard that Lisa Waterman Gonneville, also a former Falcon, was battling mesothelioma, a rare cancer usually caused by asbestos exposure. Johnson asked her friends if they would be interested in starting a fundraiser to help Gonneville. In particular, Johnson envisioned a field hockey game, as Gonneville had been an all-star player in her years at FHS.

Many of the group leaders graduated in the same year Puckett did, and the rest knew her from the FHS hallways. And though they were not in school alongside Bennett, many knew him through his son, Tommy Bennett, Jr.

“The leaders of the group emerged quickly,” says Daniel, a lifelong Freeport resident. Johnson and Daniel work with Tara Harrison Coffin, Jason and Lisa Daniel, Becki Dodge Belmore, Michelle Washburn and Carolyn Arndt Sweet to keep the organization aloft.

Falcon Pride always needs more volunteers, both to take the field and contribute in other ways. For instance, the Maine Clammers Association, headed by Coffin’s husband Chad, has donated game pinnies. The organization needs help spreading the word, as well. “We also want as much attention brought to this fundraiser as possible,” Daniel said.

Daniel is collecting donations for the auction; she can be reached at 865-0645. Likewise, Washburn is taking bake sale donations. She can be reached at 689-6219. Falcon Pride also accepts monetary donations – a fund is being set up and the organization has a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Freeportpride. Daniel invites people to like the page to receive regular updates. Additionally, Bennett’s daughter Ashley has created a Facebook page called “Team Tom” at www.facebook.com/supportteamtom.

“We mainly started as friends coming together for a friend,” said Daniel. “But the leaders of the team…have made a commitment to continue each year with a new FHS alum and carry on the fundraiser.”

Members of Falcon Pride and the Freeport High School field hockey team gather for their first practice of the year. Falcon Pride, established in early 2012 to help out a former Freeport High School field hockey teammate suffering from a rare form of cancer, played current Falcons in an exhibition field hockey game last August. Falcon Pride is once again gearing up for the benefit game, this year in honor of two other FHS alums, Becca Thoits Puckett and Tom Bennett Sr. Courtesy photo Tom Bennett Sr. Becca Thoits Puckett

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