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Supporters brave rain to support Lee County Pop Warner football program

Warrior Fest, fundraiser for a Lee County youth sports program, deemed a success

Albany’s Unbreakable Bloodline performs at Saturday’s Warrior Fest held at Mellow Mushroom. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)

Albany’s Unbreakable Bloodline performs at Saturday’s Warrior Fest held at Mellow Mushroom. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)

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Members of the Dougherty County High School Marching Band drum line perform at the Warrior Fest held Saturday at Mellow Mushroom. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)

ALBANY — Despite afternoon rains, dozens of music fans rocked out for a good cause Saturday at the Mellow Mushroom to help raise money and awareness for the Lee County Warriors youth program.

Now in its second year, the family-friendly Warrior Fest fundraiser was designed to help the Lee County Warriors Pop Warner football team and youth program.

According to Daniel Cruz, the president of the South Georgia chapter of Pop Warner, the 2014 Warrior Fest met the expectations of all involved and, even with inclement weather, generated more interest than last year’s event.

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Unbreakable Bloodline members Ryan Myers, left, and Dusty Ashberry perform at Saturday’s Warrior Fest held at Mellow Mushroom. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)

“Even though it rained, we matched what we did last year,” Cruz said. “More people came this year, so it’s definitely growing. We started at noon and Mellow Mushroom was packed until late. We’re very pleased.”

Cruz said the Lee County Warriors functions not only as a Pop Warner football team, but also a youth program that operates year round. Cruz said the youth participate in fall and spring football, but that members of the team and its coaches also are involved in basketball and baseball programs in the winter and summer through the YMCA.

“It’s a year round thing for us,” said Cruz.

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Vernon “Chief H” Cruz, left, and Chad Basko, of Albany’s Unbreakable Bloodline, perform at Saturday’s Warrior Fest. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)

“It’s also a mentorship program. We operate a training facility and try to give kids something positive to do. The Warrior Fest is another way to help support that.”

Those who ventured out in the afternoon storm to show their support were also treated to music from some of Albany’s up and coming musical acts, including Andrea and Syd, Mopeland, the G&S Experience, Djay Who and Unbreakable Bloodline (UBL), who headlined the event with an acoustic set performed inside the Mellow Mushroom because of the rain.

Cruz, whose brothers Vernon “Chief H” Cruz and Jay “O-Z” Osborne are members of UBL, said the Warrior Fest was very important to UBL because members of the band also act as mentors and coaches for the Warriors team.

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From left, Vernon “Chief H” Cruz, Jay “O-Z” Osborne and Tiffany “O’She-Tyght” Thomas, of Unbreakable Bloodline, perform at Saturday’s Warrior Fest held at the Mellow Mushroom. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)

“The Warrior Fest was very successful,” Osborne said. “The turnout was great, but most of all we had a good number of kids sign of for Pop Warner. The event gets larger every year the community came out and supported this event even through the elements and we were just happy that we could be a part of it.”