PIQUA — What began as a small fund-raiser for a fellow student, “took on a life of its own,” in the words of Piqua High School Athletic Director Chip Hare during a ceremony at the school on Tuesday.
Just weeks before the Piqua vs. Troy boys basketball game in February, students began work on a way to raise money for classmate Brandon Burnside, a sophomore, who is suffering from a serious illness.
The suggestion was made to join forces with traditional rival Troy High School, to make a unified effort to help Burnside.
Conversations between Chip Hare and David Palmer, athletic directors at the respective schools, quickly settled on one color, orange, to signify a unity between the two schools. Thus, the Orange Out was “born.”
Local businesses, including, A.M. Leonard, Crayex, Polysource, Atlantis Sportswear, Unity National Bank, Rieck Services and Ernst Sporting Goods, quickly threw their support, and money, behind the project.
On Valentine’s Day, a day traditionally steeped in red, Garbry Gymnasium and the Piqua vs. Troy rivalry, where the prominent colors are usually, red, blue, scarlet and grey, was wall-to-wall orange.
As the dust cleared from the Orange Out, more than 1,600 long-sleeve T-shirts were sold.
During a ceremony at Piqua High School on Tuesday, Hare described the event as, “two communities coming together for a common cause.”
Student organizers from Troy traveled to Piqua High School, where they, along with event sponsors, presented a check to Jacki Avey and Teresa Burnside, Brandon’s aunts who were representing the family. Brandon was unable to make the presentation ceremony due to health issues.
The final tally for the fundraiser was $14,178.18.
Avey told student organizers, “You kids have no idea the impact you have had on his (Brandon’s) life.”
While the check is, obviously, very important, Brandon’s aunts believe that there is more to his fight than money. “This kind of stuff, and prayers, are getting him through.”
As Brandon continues his fight to recover, family members said, “He is worrying about things that most kids (his age) shouldn’t have to worry about. He just wants to be a normal kid.”
Avey and Burnside urge Brandon’s friends to stay in contact, through Facebook and messages.
Hare said that Orange Out shirts can still be ordered. Anyone wishing to purchase one may contact Hare at the Piqua High School Athletic Office, at 773-6314.