FIRST Tragedy - Help from FIRST community requested

Please take a minute to review the story behind why we are asking for help. This is nothing technical or robot-related, but a matter of a tragedy-struck FLL team and local FIRST community.

We are MARS—Mountaineer Area Robotics—FRC team 2614 from Morgantown, West Virginia. We are happy to say we have a thriving local and statewide FLL program that has brought FIRST to the over 200 middle school students involved. However, it is a source of much grief to announce that right after the 2011 FRC kickoff, tragedy struck one of our local FLL teams.

This team, the Smarticle Robo Builders, was one of the first FLL teams we started back in the fall of 2008. They were the runners-up at this year’s state tournament and qualified to compete at the FLL US Open in in LEGOLAND, California in May. Their head mentor, a man named Roy Hollinger, was a father figure to the students in spirit and in actuality, a father to one of them and grandfather to another. He has served as a great mentor to not only his team, but the mentors and students of other local FLL teams as well. Sadly, he passed away early last month.

Robotics truly changed his life. He became involved after his wife started coaching the team. He lived to mentor these kids - One of the main topics at his funeral was robotics and how much he loved it and how much the kids loved him.

Remarkably, the tragedy-struck family and team still want to travel to the US Open to continue his legacy. The response from the community and the other FLL teams has truly been inspiring. Everyone, including other FLL coaches and students, is pitching in to help them with travel costs and mentoring to prepare for the US Open.

It is now that we come to you, the FIRST community, with heavy hearts in hopes that you might help this team. Any financial donations, even as little as a dollar, will go a very long way.

We have set up a PayPal account for this team at [email protected] or you can send cash or check (made payable to Mountaineer Area Robotics) to Alex Stout at 124 Scenery Drive Morgantown, WV 26505.

Thank you all SO MUCH! It really means a lot to the entire community to have just read this post, let alone donating a couple dollars.

-MARS team 2614

I will definitely see what my rookie team can help with. One of our main mentors was a big supporter of FLL in West Virginia, she was also a team member of a defunct Morgantown FRC team. Funny how we’re all connected.

We will do what we can. Best of luck. :slight_smile:

This is very upsetting indeed. We from 3329 will keep the team and the family in our prayers, as will the rest of the FIRST community. Good luck and godspeed to the FLL Smarticle Robo Builders at the Open!

Thanks guys. Pass the word along if you can! It would mean a lot to these kids.

Akash, small world, isn’t it? We formed right after 859 folded.

Thanks everyone, please help us pass the word along about the Robo Builders! I know the FIRST community can do wonderful things, and it would be such a remarkable accomplishment for this team to continue on to worlds. I know we would all hate for this to stop them up short.

FLL means so much to our community, and particularly to the families involved with Smarticle Robo Builders and the Hollingers. Here’s one of those infamous Dean Kamen opportunities to make a difference–please help us out!

We appreciate the support we have received.
Yes, this is a real deal. :slight_smile:

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who has already donated money to support the Smarticle Robo Builders— You have no idea how much this means to MARS and our LEGO team!

Our team strives to help and support every single one of our LEGO teams in our thriving local FLL program, covering many of the team’s registration costs, and mentoring these teams throughout their build season. We even have provided them with a scrimmage before the state tournament, to give them a feel for the atmosphere and how things will operate. We feel that FLL is a valuable program that teaches these youth the many necessary life lessons while also teaching STEM-based learning in a wicked-awesome method.

It’s inspiring, at least for me, to see how much FIRST has affected the youth that we mentor. As stated in the original posting, LEGO Robotics was a common topic at Mr.Hollinger’s funeral. Our local LEGO teams have pitched in to help the Smarticle Robo Builders, but it seems that this is not enough. It kills the MARS team to see one of their own be faced with the sheer reality that Mr.Hollinger’s dream could be crushed due to the lack of funding.

We’re reaching out to you, the FIRST community, to help pitch in, and keep Mr.Hollinger’s dream alive. Even if all you have to donate is a dollar, anything at this point is appreciated.

Donations can be made through Paypal at this email address:
[email protected]

OR by check to:

Alex Stout
124 Scenery Drive
Morgantown, WV 26505.

Thanks a bunch. ^_^]

Kari DeMicco
Mountaineer Area Robotics 2614

“We came to be inspired. We stayed because we are. We will become the inspiration.”