By Rob Kiser
Friday night will be a special night at Garbry Gymnasium — and not just because it is the annual Troy at Piqua boys basketball game.
The regular season finale will be a chance to recognize many of Piqua’s heroes — while benefiting the scholarship fund of one in particular.
The Friends of Rachel Club and Chief Athletic Leadership Council at Piqua High School chose to honor the military and have the proceeds go the Samuel F. Pearson Scholarship Fund for this year’s game.
“Our students wanted to do something to recognize veterans at the same time raise money for the Sam Pearson Scholarship Fund,” Piqua Athletic Director Chip Hare said.
Pearson lost his life serving the country in 2007 and displayed special attributes and qualities from a young age.
“I think the biggest thing about Sam (Pearson) is he was respected and loved by everyone on the football team — and everyone at Piqua High School,” Piqua football coach Bill Nees said. “He was a really hard worker. He worked and worked and ended up filling a niche for us at the tight end.
“That was when the spread offenses were coming into being and it gave us a great third receiver. He did all the things we needed him to do in the running game as well as being a great receiver. He was the start of the line of great tight ends we have had.”
One of the highlights of the career of the three-sport athlete — and definitely for the family — was when he caught a game-winning touchdown pass from his brother Richie.
But, Pearson was not limited to success on the athletic field — and that didn’t change right up to the day he gave his life for his country.
“The thing about Sam is where ever he went in life, he did great things,” Nees said. “And he never expected any attention for it. It was self-rewarding for him.”
His life — and the way he lived it — is reflected throughout Piqua.
There is a highway named after him, a Memorial at Echo Hills Golf Course even though he wasn’t a golfer and a 5K run sponsored annually by Can’t Stop Running and No Mercy Crossfit to raise money for the scholarship fund.
“I think everybody in Piqua remembers Sam and they are all aware he gave his life for his country,” Hare said. “There is a tremendous respect for the Pearson family — not just with athletics — but in the entire community. The legacy laid by the Pearson family in this community goes unsaid.”
A Piqua senior receives the scholarship every year and to be endowed by the Piqua Education Association, you have to have $25,000 in the fund. They are already almost half way there and Hare is hoping to contribute to that.
There will be raffle tickets sold and at halftime, one person will have a chance to not only win a gift card for themselves — but win $1,000 for the Samuel F. Pearson scholarship fund .
There will also be a check presentation to the Pearson family at halftime and the “Go Green” shirts can be purchased for $10 at Can’t Stop Running, F45 Training and Piqua High School.
“There are more than 30 sponsors that helped with the cost of the shirts, so that the entire proceeds can be donated to the scholarship fund,” Hare said. “In other words, the entire community has come together to show support for our veterans and in particular Sam Pearson.”
And what better example of Pearson’s life — and continuing his legacy — could there be than that.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.