Facing a drastic cut in revenue caused by the pandemic and inspired by a local football coach, the director of the Parsons Recreation Commission is raffling off 25 sports memorabilia items from his personal collection.
Gary Crissman said when he learned that Parsons High School football coach Jeff Schibi raffled off a football helmet autographed by Detroit Lions Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders to support the football program, he decided he should do something similar to support the recreation commission. Schibi also donated a New Orleans Saints helmet signed by receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Schibi reported on his Facebook page that the Sanders’ helmet raffle raised $650.
Beginning this week, Crissman is selling chances to win his autographed memorabilia, along with any others that the public might like to donate. Anyone interested in donating items can call or text Crissman at 778-5672 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raffle tickets will cost $5 each, $20 for six or $30 for 10. They can be purchased on Paypal (paypal.me/KelseyCrissman) or Venmo (@Gary-Crissman-1). Once purchased, the buyer should contact Crissman on Facebook Messenger or by text to ensure he received payment and the correct information. The drawings will be done live on Facebook. The first one will occur on Sunday during halftime of the Kansas City Chiefs playoff game that will begin at 5:40 p.m. Tickets can be purchased up to 9 p.m. Saturday.
The first item to be raffled is an autographed and professionally framed Michael Jordan Chicago White Sox jersey that comes with a certificate of authenticity. Crissman noted that Jordan played just one game of Major League Baseball with the White Sox in 1994. He played right field and batted in the six slot. Crissman won the jersey at an auction five years ago.
Other items include an autographed Christian Okoye framed picture, a Y.A. Tittle signed and framed photo and a baseball signed by George Brett. Crissman plans to raffle one item per week.
Crissman’s fundraising effort is needed because of the significant reduction in revenue brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The PRC staff has done a lot to try to ensure everyone’s safety, but many programs were dropped in 2020 as people are concerned about the spread of the coronavirus. Team sports programs have really taken a hit as they require close contact with others.
“We canceled a lot of those just out of an abundance of caution,” Crissman said.
The fitness center and gym at the Arvon Phillips Community Center remain open, and implementing 24-hour access to the building through upgraded memberships has helped to stem some of the losses.
“We’ve been lucky, honestly, as far as how our members support us, and the general public,” Crissman said.
Still, with the loss of many sports programs and other events, Crissman estimates the recreation commission has suffered about a 70% loss in revenue.
The raffle will be the first fundraiser for the PRC. Crissman said he doesn’t want to just ask people for donations because they already pay taxes in support of the recreation commission and its not the only organization suffering in the pandemic, so he decided to offer them something in return.
“Why not invest in a place and an organization that’s invested in you? Do I put the money back in my pocket or do I give it to an amazing organization focused on doing amazing work in this tremendous community of Parsons?” Crissman said in a statement shared on the PRC Facebook page that lists the items to be raffled.
Crissman said he hopes opening with the Jordan jersey will start the fundraising effort off with a bang and hopefully keep the momentum going as the rest of the items are offered. He hopes the public will see the passion he has for the recreation commission and the lengths that he and his staff will go to keep the programs viable.
Crissman has been collecting autographed sports memorabilia since he was 10 years old when he bought a signed basketball card and caught the fever.
“That’s probably a quarter of what I have,” Crissman said of the 25 items he is donating.
He once had a man cave full of items, with some in his garage also, but his man cave became a kid’s room and his garage is now used as people with families and a home normally use their garage. He has displayed some of the items at his office, but many have been in storage, so he thought it was time to let them go in a way that would benefit the community. Crissman has held back some of his higher-end memorabilia and many items from some of his favorite athletes.
Other autographed items from Crissman’s collection that will be raffled in the weeks to come are:
— Navy blue Marshawn Lynch Seahawks jersey
— University of Southern California Heisman Trophy winners football panel with O.J. Simpson, Marcus Allen, Charles White and Mike Garrett
— Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jonathon Page framed picture
— Mike Alstott framed picture
— Shaun Hill Parsons Vikings helmet
— Alonzo Mourning framed picture
— 2018-19 University of Kansas basketball team Adidas ball
— 2019-2020 KU basketball team Adidas ball
— Kyler Murray University of Oklahoma mini-helmet
— Jalen Hurts Philadelphia Eagles helmet
— Mike Tyson “Punch Out” print
— Oakland A’s game-used lineup card signed by Tony Larussa
— Dante Hall Kansas City Chiefs Jersey
— KU floor tile signed by Mario Chalmers
— Raef LaFrentz framed practice Jersey
Crissman also will raffle off an Arrowhead Stadium seat back (Seat No. 15) that is unsigned.
All proceeds from the raffle will go toward PRC operations, including scholarships and program equipment.
While the PRC doesn’t normally have fundraisers, the public always has an opportunity to donate money to a scholarship fund that helps children participate in sports and events that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.