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Harrisburg's Eversmann wins Chicago Bears Community All-Star award

  • Harrisburg High School senior Blake Eversmann won the Chicago Bears' Community High School All-Star award for his work in preparing the portion of Little Arlington at Sunset Lawn Cemetery for Memorial and Veteran Day services held annually.

    Harrisburg High School senior Blake Eversmann won the Chicago Bears' Community High School All-Star award for his work in preparing the portion of Little Arlington at Sunset Lawn Cemetery for Memorial and Veteran Day services held annually.
    SPYDER DANN | mdann@dailyregister.com

  • Blake Eversmann, a senior at Harrisburg High School, has been volunteering his time to make improvements and upgrades at Little Arlington at Sunset Lawn Cemetery. Recently, Eversmann raised money to have metal crosses installed.

    Blake Eversmann, a senior at Harrisburg High School, has been volunteering his time to make improvements and upgrades at Little Arlington at Sunset Lawn Cemetery. Recently, Eversmann raised money to have metal crosses installed.
    SPYDER DANN | mdann@dailyregister.com

  • Harrisburg High School senior Blake Eversmann, who would be a senior center for the Bulldog football team, was recently named the Community High School All-Star award winner by the Chicago Bears.

    Harrisburg High School senior Blake Eversmann, who would be a senior center for the Bulldog football team, was recently named the Community High School All-Star award winner by the Chicago Bears.
    SPYDER DANN | mdann@dailyregister.com

 
By Spyder Dann mdann@dailyregister.com
updated: 1/13/2021 7:56 PM

As a coach, Gabe Angelly gets a lot of emails.
Some find their way into the trash pretty quickly, while others have a way of getting the Harrisburg football coach's attention.
For instance, when the admitted die-hard Bears fan got an email from the organization about nominating a student-athlete, Angelly was quick to hit the open button.
Inside, the Bears were looking for someone who makes a positive impact in his or her community and school.
Angelly didn't have to think hard about whom to nominate.
Blake Eversmann, who is a starting center for the Bulldog football team, has been active in the Harrisburg community for a number of years now, primarily volunteering his time on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. For that work, he has been recognized by the Bears.
Word didn't reach Angelly and Eversmann until Monday, where both were joined on a Zoom call with Bears manager of Youth Football & Community Programs, Gustavo Silva, who gave the two the good news.
Eversmann has been named the Community High School All-Star award winner of the season. The Community High School All-Star award in conjunction with Athletico Physical Therapy recognizes high school football players who make a positive impact in their community and school throughout the season.
Eversmann, who carries a 4.0 GPA at Harrisburg, was awarded for his role in community service during Memorial Day and Veterans Day in Harrisburg, where Eversmann prepares crosses in the Little Arlington section of Sunset Lawn Cemetery.
The project started Eversmann's freshman year, when he talked with his grandfather Larry Angelly about ways he could do a project to give back to the community.
"It was around my freshman year of high school and I was given a project to do, where I could give back to my community or my family and friends," Eversmann said. "My grandfather and I talked about how the crosses at the cemetery (were) breaking, falling apart, they (were) dirty … they really need to be cleaned. He called me one day, it was an outrageous time, like 7 a.m. on a Saturday and I was still asleep and said he had some stuff to clean the crosses and asked me if I wanted to do that? My response was absolutely and I'll be there soon.
"We started cleaning them and it felt good to see them clean. Veterans give everything so I can sit here and go through my day in America and I felt bad to see the crosses of the veterans who fought and gave their lives, were deteriorating, dirty and breaking. So we decided to clean them before Veterans Day and Memorial Day, so they look clean for anyone that comes out and visits a family member."
Eversmann said veterans and those that served are very important to him. His grandfather served in the Vietnam War and his great-grandfather served in World War II. As a child, Eversmann can remember his grandfather encouraging him to go up to other veterans and thank them for their service.
"I never had a real appreciation for what they did, until I started sitting down and talking with my grandfather at a much older age,"Eversmann recalled. "It all kind of clicked for them when I saw these crosses that symbolize fallen veterans and people we need to hold in high regard -- it was hard to see the crosses breaking down, falling apart and trying to put them back together was a task I felt needed to be done.
"My grandfather is really the one that pushed me along and taught me to treat veterans with the respect they deserve. This is my way of honoring them and honoring what they did."
In addition to the the community service he does for Veterans and Memorial Day, Eversmann also volunteers his time at the Marion VA Medical Center, something he has been doing every summer since his freshman year of high school.
Also on Eversmann's agenda was raising money to replace the old crosses with metal crosses. In doing so, Eversmann teamed up with Randy Nyberg, who smoked meat and sold it as part of a fundraising collaboration, which was called the Veterans Memorial Preservation Fund.
"Our original plan was just to get more stone crosses, until we realized we raised a lot more money than we initially thought and we made the decision to go get metal crosses. We also talked with Harrisburg mayor John McPeek and the city board to approve a cement plot to preserve the new crosses. We were also able to use that money for other various upgrades."
Harrisburg High School principal Scott Dewar said Eversmann's character is on display on a daily basis.
I'm very proud of him for receiving this award. It just shows his character and what kind of person he is," Dewar noted. "This is genuinely who he is. He wasn't trying to achieve anything. He's the kind of kid that will always go out of his way to do something kind and for the betterment of someone else."
By winning the award, the Bears will be donating $500 to Eversmann's charity, the Veterans Memorial Preservation Fund. They now have a board and decide how funds are distributed; scholarships, donations, cleaning crosses, etc. Blake passed the torch to Phil Nyberg and his middle school classes and they are helping clean the crosses.
Eversmann will be attending the University of Alabama this fall, but his contributions are one that his football head coach will always be remembered.
"He's a great kid, with a huge heart and goes out of his way to give back to his community," Angelly said. "We haven't got to do any football stuff in a while now and this is something that is a little different from the norm. Plus, we get the chance to recognize someone doing something good in the community and has for years now. It's just nice to be able to highlight something a Harrisburg football player that doesn't happen on the field."

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.