Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of the Moffat County United Way's annual fund drive is that donors can specify which organization they want their money to benefit.
Director Corrie Scott said she's glad the United Way can accommodate those who wish to "donor designate" their contributions.
Most of the United Way's member organizations receive at least a portion of their funds from donor designation. But even those agencies on the periphery, which may not get funding from the United Way, receive pass through funds from donors who specify their preferred organization by filling out the blank on the top right-hand corner of the pledge card titled "Designation."
These non-member organizations the United Way passes money to include the Sea Sharks, Craig Senior Citizens and the Humane Society.
There is another organization, operating in Craig for nearly 20 years, which has consistently received these donor-designated funds. It has produced two professional athletes, taught many others about self-defense, and introduced Craig youth to the thrills of individual sports competition. It's called Craig Elks Boxing.
Ted Moralez pitched the idea to the Elks Club in 1985. The Elks launched the project, but Moralez said it was his intent that the boxing club would begin campaigning for its own funds.
With the help of the Elks, the United Way and numerous Craig businesses, Moralez built a program to teach boxing to children as young as seven and young adults as well.
His own children, Max and Mondo, competed in boxing tournaments as members in their early teens. Max won a four-state championship and Mondo went to regionals.
In 1988, Moralez took Craig boxer Clay Wilson to Davenport, Iowa, for a national tournament where the 15-year-old became the Junior Olympic National Champion.
Three years ago, Ty Pogline became the Class B Golden Gloves Champion.
Wilson and Pogline both went on to professional boxing careers. Pogline still competes, Moralez said.
This year, Moralez said he hopes to help Moffat County High School senior Shea Carr to realize his Golden Gloves dreams. The ambitious young boxer, now playing football, approached Moralez several times in the last year expressing his desire to compete at the top level. But Moralez said even if Carr doesn't make it there he will be a tough match for anyone along the way.
"That's the way he is," Moralez said. "There's no slow speed for him. It's all fast-paced for him. He doesn't do anything halfway."
Moralez said Carr has adjusted to "getting hit," a feeling that sends many would-be boxers away before their first fight.
"He's a tough kid. He doesn't care about getting hit because he knows that's part of the game," Moralez said.
Soon Moralez will be setting up a boxing gym at Trapper Health Club for the upcoming season. Over the years, Craig Elks Boxing has acquired a collection of gear, including heavy bags, uppercut bags, double-end bags and speed bags. Moralez also uses medicine balls, jump ropes and sparring gear in the thrice-weekly training sessions.
He encourages the young boxers to run on their own time so they can concentrate on technique during their time at the gym.
The program has drawn as many as 40 boxers in recent years. Moralez said it's a challenge maintaining order in a room full of excited young athletes.
"We try to keep them busy at practice without a whole lot of messing around," Moralez said. "It (messing around) will work against them when they're in the ring boxing."
Moralez' own history with boxing began in his early 20s in New Mexico. He calls himself a "late starter."
He said he'd always been passionate about the sport, but he grew up in Delta, and there were no programs for young boxers there.
He began boxing at age 21.
"One thing led to another. I wanted to learn as much as I could," Moralez said. "It's something I wanted my kids to learn for the self-defense part of it."
"It can help a lot of people," Moralez said. "There are a lot of reasons for people to want to learn boxing."
In addition to Carr, several children under age 10 have expressed interest in the program this year. Craig Elks Boxing hasn't needed to advertise. When the gym opens, the word gets around.
"Once we get started, it won't take long to pick up," Moralez said.
Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.