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Valley founder of decades-old family turkey bowl game back after COVID-19 battle

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Posted at 4:17 PM, Nov 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-25 20:06:53-05

PHOENIX — The Valley founder of a nearly 40-year family turkey bowl game was able to watch from the sidelines on Thursday after a recent battle with COVID-19.

In 1983, Paul Mykytiuk moved to Phoenix and participated in his church's annual Thanksgiving morning football game.

He says the game was effectively canceled after things became heated between two pastors. Instead of letting the game be canceled altogether, Mykytiuk took the reins and started what would be decades of turkey bowl games.

On Thanksgiving morning, Mykytiuk watched the 38th annual Mykytiuk Family Turkey Bowl from the sidelines. It's a game he used to play with his dad, but today, watches his son, Zach, and family friends carry on the tradition.

"We've had people that have played with us since pass away, including my own father and some of the fathers of the guys here," said Mykytiuk. "To have the opportunity to come out and enjoy this beautiful day, watch my son and his friends play some football...So, it's been great."

"He hung up the cleats, so it's all on my shoulders to carry on the tradition," said Zachary Mykytiuk, Paul's son.

Paul said he almost didn't make it to the game on Thursday; for the last few weeks, he's been battling COVID-19.

"We had home health nurses for infusions, and it got intense. But it’s all good now," he described.

Mykytiuk said he doesn't take any time with his children and family for granted.

"It does put a focus on, 'hey appreciate every day, to connect with friends and family, people you care about because tomorrow’s not a given.' It’s not promised," said Mykytiuk.