ARLINGTON — Arlington High School senior Max Gray's flash football charity event received tremendous support from the Arlington community on April 4, in support of Jovon Mangual.
The charity event was for Mangual's mother Jonielle Spillers.
Mangual went missing during the Oso mudslide on March 22, and funds collected during the charity went directly to Spillers.
"The main reason is to support the people that really need it," Gray said. "I think the Spiller family will be very happy about this."
Gray has been coaching flash football for two years and has coached Mangual before on his flash football team.
A few days after the mudslide on March 22, Gray thought of a way to reach out in support of Mangual.
"I just thought a perfect way to have a fundraiser is to play football," he said. "So three or four days ago I thought 'Let's start something and have it before spring break ends,' and it got pretty big."
The event featured 15-minute rounds of flash football, started by an opening prayer service and a commemorative speech by Gray.
"People have been coming in since 10 a.m.," Gray said. "They have just been waiting and warming up, and we raised about $3,400 in an hour."
At the end of the event, the charity raised $4,537. Gray's initial goal was $2,500.
"It was just incredible," Gray's mother Bridget Gray said. "It was more then we could have ever hoped for."
Gray's event was supported by Lily Bleu's Barbecue which also helped raise funds for the charity.
"I graduated from the Arlington School District," Lily Bleu Barbecue owner Bill Hoerner said. "You gotta do something for the community. It's a small town."
Hoerner was also impressed with the turnout.
"We had no idea the turnout was going to be like this," he said. "We knew it was going to be good."
Hoerner estimated that his catering brought in $1,000 toward the charity.
The event wasn't easy to pull off for Max, who planned the event for only five days. "Each day was getting overwhelming," Gray's father Bill Gray said. "He is just my inspiration. Everyday is something new."
When Max announced the event via social networking, the response by the community was generous as it was shocking. "A lot of people here did not know how to help out," Gray said "That's why there are a lot of people here to day."
"It was difficult. Ever since I announced this event on Facebook, it has been non-stop calling people, posting flyers and advertising," Gray said. "It was a lot of work."
"We tried to figure out how to make all the games work with as many people that came," Gray said. "There were three or four strategies, and I changed it last night."
Gray said he was supported by his family, the Arlington High School Grid Iron Club and Lily Bleu's Barbecue for catering. "I basically did most of it, but there were a lot of people involved," he said.