The James F. Caudill Traumatic Brain Injury Foundation, or The C Foundation, hosted the third annual West Wilkes-Wilkes Central Alumni Soccer Game Saturday night at West Wilkes, but the third installment was a little bit different than the previous two.
The C Foundation, and the game itself, are designed to help offset the medical costs required for the treatment of James Caudill’s brain injury suffered in October of 2012 in a longboarding accident.
In the first two games, alumni from West Wilkes and Wilkes Central squared off against each other — with the former Eagles taking both of those matches. This year, the Eagles and the Blackhawks joined forces to take on a team of players from the Premier Adult Soccer League based out of Winston-Salem.
“I thought it worked out really well,” Joey Caudill, president of The C Foundation and brother of James Caudill, said Saturday night after the game. “Dad (Jim Caudill) played in Winston for years and so it gave us a good opportunity for these guys — they love to help out and they come up to play at the house all the time with dad — a lot of good former college players.
“So I thought, hey, let’s mix it up a little bit and give Central and West and opportunity to play together and I thought it worked out really well.”
The visitors were a team comprised of teammates and pickup league comrades of Jim Caudill who said that he had been playing with many of them for 20 years. Caudill also played in the game but laughed about how short his minutes were.
“I love it,” Jim Caudill, James’ father, said. “We’ve played with this group forever but there are a lot of talented players here. Giving up the years, the boys played hard and they played smart too. It was really a fun match to watch. Everybody wanted to win but it was in good spirits.”
The squad from the PASL won the game, which featured some impressive goalkeeping on both sides, 2-1. The Wilkes County contingent found itself trailing at the half but in the 60th minute, Nick Sheets, a former Wilkes Central Eagle, scored an equalizer.
In the 74th minute, the PASL squad netted what turned out to be the game-winning goal. While the game itself was competitive, both Jim and Joey Caudill agreed that the score is really immaterial, while the sense of community and support are the aspects of the event that matter.
“It really encourages my parents and family and me as well,” Joey Caudill said of the game. “James’ accident was two and a half years ago and once a year this is a good reminder that the community has not forgotten us, that there is a community of support for James that is pulling for him, praying for him and willing to support him.
“That is what we are most thankful for because at the end of the day, the score doesn’t matter. It’s the handshakes and all the people coming up and asking how James is doing — that’s what matters.”
Jim Caudill echoed that sentiment.
“It’s very important to us that this amount of people care about our family and care about James’ injury and that really shows a lot,” he said. “That support for us is huge because it gets dark at times and to have all these people that care enough to come and play and spend this time is just huge to us as a family.”
The C Foundation raises money to help reduce the financial burden of James Caudill’s medical expenses. Joey Caudill said that the foundation has helped pay for medication and medical equipment as well as a van — with the help of the PASL — that transports James to and from doctor’s appointments and hospital visits.
“It allows mom and dad to not have to worry about those financial burdens on top of them and so that’s what the foundation has been able to do,” Joey Caudill said.
For more information on the James F. Caudill Traumatic Brain Injury Foundation, visit cfoundation.wordpress.com.