JAY — The excitement was palpable in the Spruce Mountain High School gymnasium Friday, Nov. 29, for the 8th annual Jake Lord Play It Safe Foundation basketball fundraiser. Basketball teams, spectators and volunteers filled the gym for an afternoon of games, raffles, and awareness.

The foundation was established in 2012 in memory of Jake Lord, a star athlete and Jay native who took his life at the age of 18 after enduring multiple sports-related concussions.

Jake’s father, Larry Lord was critically injured in a propane gas explosion Sept. 16 at the LEAP central offices in Farmington where he served as maintenance supervisor. He continues to recover at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Lynelle Towers of Jay enters a ticket for one of the dozens of raffle prizes at the Jake Lord Play It Safe Foundation fundraiser Friday, No. 29 at Spruce Mountain High School. Dee Menear/Franklin Journal

When Spruce Mountain High School Athletic Director Keller was told the Lord family couldn’t organize the event this year, staff from the school and LEAP stepped in and made sure the event took place.

“It was already a well-oiled machine we just brought in new people,” said Megan Goodine of LEAP. “The vibe was nothing short of amazing. Everything was perfect. The stories about Jake, wishes to the Lord Family and pre-season competition among the players was felt throughout our community and all the way to Boston.”

The Lord family was updated throughout the day with Facetime and live videos, she said.


Rep. Tina Riley (D-Jay) presented a Legislative Sentiment recognizing Lord. “Mr. Lord smelled gas in the basement of the offices of LEAP and quickly evacuated the building and called the fire department,” Riley read. “Soon thereafter, the building exploded and was destroyed, and Mr. Lord was injured. We extend to Mr. Lord our appreciation for his life-saving actions.”

The sentiment was presented to LEAP Executive Director Darryl Wood on behalf of Lord.

Attendees were invited to share written thoughts for the Lord family on a paper runner on a table at the school’s entrance.

Those attending the Jake Lord Play It Safe Foundation fundraiser Friday, No. 29, were encouraged to leave a note of encouragement for the Lord family. Dee Menear/ Franklin Journal Buy this Photo

Boys and girls basketball teams from SMHS, Leavitt Area High School in Turner, Mt. View High School in Thorndike and Buckfield Junior-Senior High School in Buckfield played in the friendly tournament throughout the afternoon.

On the sidelines, tickets for an array of raffle items, fundraiser tee shirts and concessions were sold.

The event was run entirely by volunteers.


“We had more volunteers than we knew what to do with,” Goodine said.

A large portion of those volunteers were student athletes and National Honor Society members, she said.

“Students really stepped up to volunteer,” Keller said. “They worked really hard. Every time I turned around kids were asking me what they could do.”

“The foundation is about student athletes, so the Lord family was pleased about that,” Goodine added.

The event was the largest fundraiser for the foundation to date, she said. A final tally was not available Monday morning, Dec. 2.

“The fundraiser was amazing,” Goodine said. “It was healing for us at LEAP as well.”

For more information about JLPISF, visit www.playitsafefoundation.org.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.