The Shoreham-Wading River football program was presented the "Fight Like Dylan Award" Sunday at a news conference held at the Renaissance Hotel at Sea World on the eve of the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Florida.
Shoreham-Wading River was selected from the four finalists for the prestigious award and a $50,000 grant to be used for athletic apparel and equipment for the SWR athletic program.
The award honors Dylan Rebeor, a Tennessee high school football player whose last wish was for his teammates to receive new uniforms. He died on Dec. 3, 2010, after a battle with colon cancer. That same season, his high school team, the Columbia Central Lions of Tennessee, won their first state crown in 58 years.
The Shoreham-Wading River community and its football team were struck by tragedy this fall when junior Tom Cutinella died after an on-field collision midway through the varsity football season.
"Each year we are inspired by the remarkable support of communities who overcome great obstacles to allow their youth sports teams to succeed both on and off the field," said Robby Davis, senior vice president and general manager of Russell Athletic.
"Shoreham-Wading River exhibited exactly what we were looking for. They experienced a tragic incident that affected a team, district, community and family and exemplified 'together we R.' We are excited to support the community and the team in honoring the legacy of an incredible teammate and brother in Tom Cutinella. This is truly one of Russell Athletic's proudest and most revered programs."
Shoreham-Wading River football coach Matt Millheiser said, "We're honored in a way that it reflects the way our community and district came together. It's a very generous offering by Russell Athletic in keeping Dylan's memory alive. And Dylan and Tom had many similarities in thinking and caring about others."
The award is presented to a team that demonstrates determination through sports, paying tribute to Rebeor's character, courage and consideration of others.
Cutinella's Shoreham-Wading River teammates went on to complete the school's finest football season, culminating in the school's first Long Island Class IV championship. The Wildcats beat Roosevelt, 47-13, in the final and finished the season with a 12-0 record.
"Like Dylan, my son continues to inspire people," said his father, Frank Cutinella. "I'm proud of that. Like Dylan's legacy, my son and his team are still inspiring people to do the right thing."
Shoreham-Wading River assistant football coach Tom Fabian will join Mark Passamante, the school's director of athletics, to accept the plaque that represents the grant in an on-field ceremony after the first quarter of Monday night's Russell Athletic Bowl between Oklahoma and Clemson.
"It's another way of Tom giving back to us in some form with this award from Russell Athletic," Passamante said. "He's an angel watching over us. The Cutinella family wants to carry his name in a positive manner in any way possible. And this grant will go to good use. I'll sit with our varsity coaches and plan on how we'll use the grant."