Tony Jones has been much more than a coach to the young athletes on the York High track and field team.

Jones was a counselor and a father figure to those who didn't have a father in their lives.

A 1974 York High graduate, Jones knew the challenges of growing up in the city.

He encouraged students to give their best efforts every time, in the classroom and in athletics, and to develop a plan for life after high school.

Jones went to Bloomsburg University and ran on the track and field team.

One of his fondest memories was competing in the prestigious Penn Relays, and after becoming a coach, he and another coach, Stu Krise, would drive the Bearcats' athletes to Philadelphia so they, too, could compete at Franklin Field.

Jones wasn't able to make the trip this past spring.

He's battling cancer, and although Jones was able to attend some of the competitions, he wasn't able to coach the team.

Jones, though, has constantly been in the thoughts and prayers of those who know him.

A group of friends, along with offering emotional support, recently came up with plan to help Jones with his medical costs.

"The Bearcats for Tony Jones Cabaret" is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 28, from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. at the Local 1872 building, 3562 Gillespie Drive in West York.

A donation of $10 is requested, and all proceeds will be used to aid Jones.

The Beaver Street Band, Carmen Bryant, Don Carn, Mack White and other local musical talent will perform that evening.

"Tony is a very good friend of mine, and if I was in his situation, he would do the same for me," said Jim Wilson, a former York High and York Tech track and field coach and one of the event's organizers.

Wilson, a 1966 York High graduate, and Jones were both national champions in USA Track and Field Masters' Division.

"I got Tony into coaching," Wilson said. "He's a talented coach who loves kids and loves his community."

Wilson contacts Jones on a weekly basis.

Tony Jones
Tony Jones (File Photo)

"I believe he has one more round of chemo (chemotherapy)," Wilson said. "His spirits are high, and his goal is to get back into coaching."

Another of the fund-raising event organizers, Barry Freeland, said Jones is the epitome of what the community needs.

"Not only as a track coach, but how he works with kids," the 1971 York High graduate said. "He's dug into his pockets to help kids get to college. This is our way of saying thanks to him."

Tickets for the "Bearcats for Tony Jones Cabaret" can be obtained by contacting Wilson at (717) 870-9706, Freeland at (717) 781-0014, Bob Redman at (717) 542-1176 or Greg Smith at (717) 891-5356.

Dick VanOlinda covers high school sports for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at dvanolin or at 505-5407.