Franklin Regional basketball continues fundraising efforts for Clelian Heights

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Sunday, February 27, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Organizer Kurt Kimmich longs for the return of the Special Needs Awareness Day at Franklin Regional.

The unique event celebrates the students of Clelian Heights School for Exceptional Children in Greensburg, through basketball.

Sister Charlene Celli of Clelian Heights told Kimmich, “Definitely next year,” when asked if the event would return at full strength in 2023.

“Only I would ask a nun to make a promise,” Kimmich said with a laugh.

The special needs day, which began in 2011, usually has Franklin Regional basketball players dribbling, shooting and passing with Clelian students — a couple hours of fun that put days’ worth of smiles on the faces of those in attendance.

The covid pandemic and safety concerns related to it forced organizers to cancel the in-person day in 2021 and ’22.

“We were so sad again that we had to inform our friends at Franklin Regional of our decision to once again postpone this incredible event,” said Celli, the principal at Clelian Heights. “Our kids truly look forward to this event all year long as it is such a special example of God’s love in our community.”

Despite the cancellations, Franklin Regional’s basketball boosters maintained its fundraising efforts and came up with a $500 donation for Clelian Heights. Each year, the donation is matched.

For the 12th straight year, captains of the Franklin Regional boys and girls basketball teams presented a check to the school.

“We will be back stronger than ever in 2023,” Kimmich said. “As long as the administration at Franklin Regional allows me to organize this, we will continue to shine a light on the amazing kids and teachers that make up Clelian Heights. It’s what makes me happiest.”

Kimmich’s son, Ben, is a student at Clelian Heights and a team manager for several varsity teams at Franklin Regional.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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