by Lou Pinto
Yesterday was hot day, but that didn’t deter about 300 people from showing up for the 5th annual Rock the Block Festival at Stogie Joe’s. Stogie’s has been host to this event since 2013, held to raise funds for the Coach Wags Memorial Foundation.
Founded in 2010, the CWMF was established and named in memorial after Coach John “Wags” Wagner. Coach Wags was the Freshman Football Coach at St. Joe’s Prep for 13 years. In 2006 he was diagnosed with head and neck cancer. With this touch fight ahead of him he continued to do what he loved and knew best….coach.
Although he missed the entire 2006 season due to the aggressive treatments he received, they proved to be successful sending his cancer into remission. He returned to coaching in 2007. Unfortunately, in early 2007, the cancer had returned and was spreading. This time he continued to coach and did not miss a single game. 2007 was a unforgettable season, with Coach Wags won his 100th game.
For 13 years, he touched the lives and hearts of all of his players as well as their families. He was the type of person who would do anything in his power to help transform the boys he coached into young men. Sadly, this true hero lost his battle with cancer in July of 2008.
In the spirit of “Keeping the Fight Alive”, the family of Coach Wags established The Coach Wags Memorial Foundation with all the proceeds raised going to cancer research and to help improve the daily lives of children battling this horrible disease.
For the past five years, Stogie Joe’s Tavern has partnered with the Coach Wags Foundation for the annual Rock the Block Festival which closes down the 1800 block of Passyunk Avenue. They serve food and drink, have games, 50/50 tickets, a dunk tank, a basket auction and one of the area’s best cover bands- The Business- plays for everyone. All proceeds go directly to CWMF.
Stogie Joe’s Tavern is what I have dubbed the Cheers of South Philly. Opening in 2008, it has established itself as the place to meet and see old friends… or instantly make new ones. The food is homemade and you can get a three course meal, a sandwich or just a cold beer. It’s a place where you can come in alone, sit at the bar, and by the time you leave you’re part of the family with bartenders Jimmy and Ralph.
For more information on the Coach Wags Memorial Foundation, or to donate, visit their website here.