The Empty Stocking Fund generates nearly $20,000 to
help the less fortunate.|
He may not be Santa Claus, but professional wrestler
Al "Snow" Sarven of the World Wrestling Federation
certainly brought Christmas cheer to one Lima boy
this week in answer to the youngster's Empty Stocking
The boy, named Alex in the story, suffers from a
terminal lung disease.
He had asked to meet "Snow" and to have a WWF tape
Sarven made a special trip to the boy's house
Wednesday, his vehicle loaded with WWF memorabilia,
and talked more than an hour to the boy and his
family. "I never thought I'd meet you," Alex said
over and over as Sarven answered questions from the
The Lima News
September 17, 1999
Wrestler 'heads' up fund-raiser
by: Chad Lerch
Al Sarven pulled out a black magic marker and carefully wrote "HELP ME" on 10-year-old Tyler Binkley's forehead. He then looked toward the crowd and said, "Don't worry, it'll come off with a little bit of soap and water."
Sarven, known as Al Snow in the world of professional wrestling, smiled and added, "Well you might have to rub a little bit."
In his wrestling persona, Sarven often appears with a mannequin head that has "HELP ME" written across it's forehead.
Binkley, of Elida, appeared to be stunned as he looked up at the monstrous man standing next to him. But when his time with the superstar was over, he walked away with a big grin on his face.
"It was exciting because I never met a wrestler," Binkley said after he walked out of the cage that served as a backdrop for the photo.
About 250 people lined up to meet Sarven at The Andersons in the American Mall on Thursday. The United Way fundraiser brought out wrestling fans young and old. Everyone seemed happy to meet their hometown hero.
Sarven, a Lima resident, is loved for his effort on the World Wrestling Federation tour. Many people look up to him because he's tall, but also because he's willing to help the community.
"I appreciate that he's doing this for the United Way," said Matt Speca, 17, of Celina. "It's not going in his pocket."
Some of the younger fans looked a little intimidated while standing next to the 6-foot-1, 230-pound Sarven. But others smiled as if they had just met the real Santa Claus.
"Al Snow" is a tough guy who has taken a few too many shots to the head. Part of his gimmick is talking to the manneguin because he has gone insane.
Danei Borchers, 13, of Lima, said Sarven looks smaller on television.
"He's not as scary as he looks on TV," she said. "He's nuts on TV."
Tim Conine, a department manager for The Andersons, has known Sarven since high school. Conine says he approached Sarven several months ago about participating in the United Way fund-raiser and Sarven jumped in at the chance.
Sarven was easy-going with the children, joking around and posing with the "insane" smile for the photos. He said he enjoys participating in worthy charity events.
"It's fun. It's hard work. But easier than digging a ditch," Sarven said in between signing autographs. "I don't take it for granted that people would come out and stand in line -- I wouldn't
"This gives me a chance to meet people and if I've made these kids' day, and help the community, it's worth it."