Joe Kekoanui has spent a lot of time recently bopping around Bridgeport, Collegeville, and the other Montgomery County towns and suburbs that he knows so well, spreading a little cheer to first-responders and others on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A couple of senior-care centers in Plymouth? One got 20 breakfast pizzas. One got trays of soft pretzels and cases of water. The Lower Providence Police Department? They got pizzas and Zeps – Norristown’s answer to hoagies. The West Norriton Police Department? The same for them.
“We’re just trying to keep people a little more upbeat about things,” Kekoanui, 35, said.
The meals officially come from the Bama Booster Club of Bridgeport, the social club that has tied the town to the University of Alabama football program for the last half-century. Kekoanui is a member and its unofficial spokesman, and he estimated that the Bama Boosters, with the help of several local restaurants and bars, have fed more than 5,000 people through their donations to area government and public offices and health-care centers.
“You see this little bit of light and hope at the end of the tunnel,” Kekoanui said. “We just want to go see it and be part of it.”
In years past, the club’s primary vessel for hope and help was the scholarship endowment it had created in 1983. Out of a fund of more than $260,000, the club awards at least one scholarship annually to a Pennsylvania student who plans to use the money to attend Alabama. After a story about the Bama Boosters appeared in The Inquirer in October, they received a record number of scholarship applications and handed out 11 scholarships, each one between $1,000 and $2,500.
“I want to carry this legacy,” Kekoanui said, “that all these guys in the club have carried on for so long.”