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Editorial: Thumbs up to a Marine mom, an inventive product, a fast-growing sport and dance champs

When Marine mom Dawn Geigan heard about United States soldiers in Afghanistan living in dreadful conditions, she felt a call to help. She'd heard that our

THUMBS UP: Dawn Geigan, whose son is in the U.S. Marine Corps, noted that some soldiers overseas were sleeping on the ground with rocks as pillows, so she sent a package filled with personal care items. And then another. And another. And some friends began sending packages, too. And her little endeavor began to grow. Ravens Roost 115 got involved. So did Girl Scout Troop 28259. And others. It has turned into the We've Got Your Back Care Package Project. They held a packing party on July 5. It took them four hours — assembly line style — to pack up 46 boxes of items to send. "Everyone jumped right in and took a task," Geigan told us, noting that Carol and Calli Mastrangelo put together boxes while Deanna Utermahlen, Janet Beckelhimer and herself filled them, while Celeste Brown filled out customs forms for every box and Jackie Day addressed them. They also got some help from the Westminster post office. And, the day they shipped the boxes, they even got an unexpected and generous donation from a stranger to help defray the cost of $17 to $18 per box. Geigan said they plan to send more items, probably in late August or early September.

Local fans of Court Grabbers will have to tune in to ABC's new show "Steve Harvey's Funderdome" on Sunday night, July 23, to see if the product designed to

THUMBS UP: An invention that's already been put to use by local basketball players will be seen on ABC on Sunday night, when Court Grabbers goes against another product for the chance to win $20,000 on "Steve Harvey's Funderdome." Court Grabbers help athletes maintain traction. They clip onto a player's shoes and can be used hands-free to prevent slipping on a court. Inventor Steve McLaughlin made his pitch to the audience during the taping of the show last fall. He isn't allowed to say whether Court Grabbers got the funding, but he said the national exposure is a huge victory in itself. Court Grabbers is new to most of America, but not this county. Dave Pruitt and Justin King are both Carroll investors who sit on the board of the company and McLauglin told us, "Carroll was one of our first test areas, and is one of our best programs." Court Grabbers are the only on-court traction product authorized by the NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations, according to Pruitt. Many in Carroll will likely be rooting for Court Grabbers on Sunday (and hoping Harvey doesn't flub the announcement of the winner).

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— A former Taneytown resident who hones his game in Eldersburg brought home gold after he traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, to play pickleball with his doubles

THUMBS UP: Some athletes at the South Carroll Senior and Community Center may have discovered a Fountain of Youth of sorts in the largely obscure but fast-growing sport of pickleball. Upward of 30 seniors play on the center's three courts every weekday morning. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are for beginning and intermediate players, while Tuesdays and Thursdays are reserved for advanced competitors. One such competitor is Tom Henry, a 70-year-old former Taneytown resident who recently partnered with Jerry Clark, of Gaithersburg, to win the doubles championship for the 70-74 age division at the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama. They rallied to beat a New York pair in the final. Clark credits pickleball — an American game invented in the 1960s that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong — for helping him to stay young. "It allows people to regain the athletic competitiveness that they've had for years," he told us. "It puts a lot of youth in your step again when you feel that you can compete at a pretty high level."

The company recently competed in New Jersey in a World Of Dance competition, and, despite being the only 18 and younger company, won.

THUMBS UP: Savage Dance, a studio in Eldersburg, recently won the upper division of the World of Dance competition in New Jersey. Studio owner Nichole Savage said they heard about the competition from one of their choreographers, Dez Soliven, who taught the company the choreography a few weeks before they performed. Savage said she just wanted her dancers, who ranged in age from 8 to 18, to gain some experience as they were competing against adult groups. When Savage Dance was announced as the winner, Savage said she was "shocked." "It was quite humbling that a little community from Carroll County can go to New Jersey, New York and beat crews that are three-time champions," she told us. They followed that up by competing in the Dance Awards in Orlando, Florida, from July 9-15, finishing in the top five in their division. The studio has been operating for 15 years, but in the past five years, Savage said she moved the studio to focus more on the commercial industry to help the dancers prepare for professional dance careers.



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