Going beyond the game

From left, Tommy Pinkerman, Shiloah Blevins, Dallas Copas, and Ryan Fenton while painting Pinkerman’s garage.

Jacob Ruth paints the side of Tommy Pinkerman’s garage on Tuesday morning. Ruth came to help despite having cartilage removed from his nose earlier in the morning.

Ryan Fenton paints the back end of Tommy Pinkerman’s garage on Tuesday morning.

When a person is in need, it is our duty to attempt to help whenever possible.

But when three teenage boys and a basketball coach take time out of their busy schedules to help an individual like esteemed coach, referee, and umpire Tommy Pinkerman, it’s still quite special, especially given the circumstances.

Pinkerman, who has now fought — and successfully beat — cancer twice over the past decade, needed some help. With his strength still weak due to the five inoperable tumors that he was able to defeat, the well-respected U.S. Navy veteran needed some help from a group of younger individuals in order to help paint his garage.

Look no further than South Webster basketball hands Dallas Copas, Shiloah Blevins, and Jacob Ruth. The trio, along with head coach Ryan Fenton, spent most of the day on Tuesday morning and afternoon giving a hand to a man that they respect a great deal by painting his garage in Wheelersburg on Tuesday — a wonderful gesture to a man that has given much of his time and energy to promote kids across the Southern Ohio area.

But it’s something that Fenton and Blevins would do a million times over if they had to.

“We were glad to do it,” Fenton said. “I know that Tom’s health’s been bad. I tried to stop a few times before on the way home just to see him, because I wanted to know how he was doing. You see things on social media, and you don’t really know how bad it is until you see things for yourself. I believe that it got pretty bad for him. I just saw an opportunity for our kids. He had struggled to find people who would work for him, and I just told him, ‘That isn’t going to be a problem. We’ll take care of that.’ We’re definitely glad to do it and the kids were glad to do it.”

“I felt privileged to have the opportunity to help someone who was in need,” Blevins said. “(Tom) Pinkerman is a great guy with an excellent outlook on life, and that really shows through his character.”

And it’s a gesture that Pinkerman was thankful for the moment that he came back from his early-morning round of golf, when he saw three individuals — Fenton, Blevins, and Copas — going to town on his old garage.

“You just don’t find many kids like these anymore,” Pinkerman said while the painting was going on. “They’re good kids who are committed and are good-hearted. I just love them.”

While Fenton, Blevins, and Copas were at the garage even before the agreed-upon 10:30 a.m. time, their friend and junior point guard showed up a little bit later, but for good reason. Ruth, who had a previously-scheduled appointment to clean up cartilage in his nose — which has affected his breathing — still proved to be more than up to the task.

He immediately went right to work upon being dropped off at Pinkerman’s house, which sets a tenth of a mile from the U.S. 52-Ohio 522 interchange.

“Jacob had to go get evaluated to clean up the cartilage in his nose because he’s had trouble breathing out of that side of his nose due to an elbow during the season this past year,” Fenton said. “But he still wanted to come. Jacob, Dallas, and Shiloah are very close. And I know that when there’s work to be done, that I have players, both former and current, who love to work. Dallas, Jacob, and Shiloah are hard workers on the basketball court, and it’s funny how that translates to life. They never complained one time and they worked hard. I think that they did a daggone good job. From the before and after photos, I thought that they did an excellent job.”

But it’s Tommy Pinkerman, after all. With the veteran beating cancer twice, and still planning on making it back to the basketball court in order to referee basketball games in the future, the quartet knew that painting a garage for the man who has given so much time and energy to others wouldn’t be a big deal.

“I like to show these kids that it’s good to give back,” Fenton said. “He’s a guy that’s given so much to kids over the years. I’m just glad to see some kids man up, help him out, and do such a good job for Tom.”

“It was really a great experience,” Ruth said. “I really enjoyed my time with (Tommy Pinkerman). It was nice to know that I could give my time back to him.”

Beside the work that the quartet did for Pinkerman, the work, which featured some cutting up and small talk throughout the day, showed the bond that each person had for the other.

“We’re very tight,” Fenton said. “We go through ups and downs together, but at the end of the day, we still care for one another and love each other. I’m very thankful to see the progress that Dallas, Jacob, and Shiloah have made together, not only as basketball players, but as young men. I’m glad they got to see a guy like Tommy.”

Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7