ATHENS — Cornhole players will have a chance to compete for a good cause on Saturday at the fourth annual Friends of Jay Schultz tournament.

The tournament, which will be held at Tanner’s Bar and Grill, raises money for former Athens High School standout athlete Jay Schultz, who was diagnosed with ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — in 2009.

The 54-year-old Athens native is battling the progressive nervous system disorder that gradually destroys the nerves responsible for muscle movement.

Cindy Millard, who is a close friend to the Schultz family and organizer of the tournament, credits Jay’s wife, Kelly, with helping him through this battle.

“She is marvelous. If there was some way to recognize her. The girl has no medical training and she takes care of (Jay). She’s just amazing,” Millard said. “A lot of women would have cut and run and a lot of men would have too, but they exemplify courage, dignity, grace — and most of all faith and love. Jay told Kelly that as long as there is hope he will fight, so we have to keep hoping.”

While he may be battling ALS now and unable to compete himself, back in the day Jay Schultz was “a fierce competitor” according to Millard.

“The last game that I played with Jay was cornhole, so that’s how it came to be a cornhole event,” said Millard. “If you knew Jay back in the day, that boy could talk smack. He’s a fierce competitor, but never a sore loser. If you beat him, he’d laugh as hard as you did. He didn’t want to lose and he sure as heck wasn’t going to let you win.”

Millard was quick to praise Tanner’s owners Ryan Wood and John Thurston for jumping at the chance to help Schultz.

“They are amazing. Everything I need they are right there for. They take care of everything,” said Millard, who noted Tanner’s always donates a portion of the money made at the bar to the Schultz family. “It’s not about them at all, it’s about Jay. They are just so humble and just down-home, honest folk, you don’t find that much anymore.”

The event begins with cornhole registration at 11 a.m. The tournament will begin at noon. Cost per team is $20. There will also be 50-50 and basket raffles as well as food and drinks for sale.

Pat McDonald can be reached at (570) 888-9643 ext. 228 or Follow Managing Editor Pat McDonald on Twitter @PatMcDonaldMT.

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