Iraq vet questions gun raffle for Pa. kids league

August 7, 2008 6:00:54 PM PDT
A father said a central Pennsylvania youth football league is using inappropriate raffle prizes for a fundraiser - rifles. David Diaz, who says he spent two years serving in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division, said he doesn't want his 9-year-old daughter, a cheerleader, to sell tickets for the October nightly raffle.

"We're talking about elementary school-age children that are supposed to do this," said Diaz, of Millerstown. "It doesn't seem right that we are using guns to raise money so they can play football."

The money from the sale of the $10 raffle tickets will go to the Greenwood-Newport Midget Football Association, which puts on games for children ranging from 5 to 13.

Pat Dorman, the association vice president, said she didn't see a problem with a rifle as an attention-getting prize.

"People hunt; guns are not just used for violence," said Dorman, of Newport. "We want to attract the people to buying the tickets."

She said the three-year-old raffle is modeled on similar ones by other organizations. Another member of the five-county Catholic Football Association holds one, and similar ones are found at area carnivals, she said.

Dorman noted that children aren't required to sell the tickets. Parents who don't want to participate can pay for the tickets themselves, $130 for one child or $200 for a family, said Gerald Walton, director of the association.

With costs including $5,000 for new cheerleader uniforms, $3,000 a year to rent portable toilets and $200 to outfit each player, Walton said the popular raffles "keep us afloat."

Dorman said winners can receive cash if they don't want a rifle. Ticket holders must be 18 to win a rifle, and receive it through a participating gun store that satisfies all legal requirements including background checks, she said.

State and local officials said it is legal for children to sell tickets for a gun raffle. The children can't win the rifle or present it to the winner, Perry County District Attorney Charles Chenot said.