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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Jams for Julie

Families stand together in times of trouble.

There is no doubt that the Niagara Frontier League is much more than just another scholastic sports division; it’s a family.

“Jams for Julie” is proof of that.

On Friday, January 18th the Ken-Ton School District hosted its leg of the “Jams for Julie” fundraiser at Kenmore West High School in memory of Julie Roth Neville. Julie, who was a wife and mother of four, lost her two-year battle against breast cancer on October 16th, 2018. She was just 40 years old. Julie left behind her husband Jimmy and their four boys Jonathan (11), Jayden (8), Jameson (6), and Jaxson (5).

Ken-Ton honored Julie during the girls & boys basketball double header between Kenmore East and Kenmore West.

The pink theme night featured a 50/50 drawing and basket raffle all with the mission of raising money for Julie’s boys.

“It’s obviously a hard situation for us,” said Julie’s brother Jeff Roth, who served a three-year stint as assistant athletic director in Ken-Ton. “The truth of the matter is knowing that this many people have this much good in their hearts, whether it’s my family or another family. Its really uplifting to see this many people support a Grand Island teacher/coach/mother, one who wasn’t even one of their own, is truly amazing and we’re so thankful that [Ken-Ton athletic director] Brett Banker and his secretary Leah Canestro have spearheaded this project.”

Julie was a three-sport star during her days at Grand Island High School. Hitting the 1,000 point mark in basketball, she was also an all-league tennis and softball player.

But Julie Roth Neville was so much more than an all-star athlete. She was an all-star person. Julie had a kind, caring  heart and was the type of person who made the world a better place just by being herself. The fact the the Grand Island and Niagara Wheatfield districts also held games of this nature is evidence of how deeply people care about Julie and her family.

Julie was a fifth grade teacher at Huth Road Elementary School in the Grand Island District. She touched young lives for the better every single day.

In the eyes of Ken-Ton athletic director Brett Banker being there for the Roth/Neville family was the only right thing to do.

“It’s a connection from a league level as well. We’re a tight league. We only have nine schools,” Banker said. “We compete like crazy against each other but we also help each other when needed.” Saying how the NFL formed in 1937, Banker passionately believes that the bond of being under the NFL banner makes all the schools family.

Banker himself has a close friendship with the Roth family. Julie served as girls JV basketball coach when his wife, Jen Banker, was varsity coach at GI and Julie’s dad, Jon Roth, was the Grand Island AD.

“We have a tight bond with the Roth’s and Grand Island and it’s a fellow league member that needed help,” Banker added.

Like his son Jeff the word ‘overwhelmed’ was Jon’s first reaction to all of the people who went out of their way to make this night a success.

“It means a lot. It just shows how many people are so generous and it’s just overwhelming the support the community has given to something like this,” Jon Roth said. “It’s great for my daughter. What a tribute to Julie.”

While nothing can completely fill the void that the Roth/Neville family has been coping with since Julie’s passing, a strong show of support serves as a reminder that they aren’t alone.

“Absolutely. I can’t say enough to Brett Banker, a dear friend of mine who of course knew Julie very well,” Jon Roth said. “For him to spearhead this with his committee they just do an outstanding job.”

The exact amount raised will not be formally released until Tuesday. In addition, money raised by Ken-West boys varsity coach Mike Meetze will be presented to Jimmy Neville with scholarships for each of his sons to attend the Kenmore West summer basketball camp.

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