By David Mohimani and Simon Zimmerman
“It’s a tragic situation that would rock any school district,” said Jeff Roth, Penn Manor Athletic Director speaking the sad truth.
Since a car accident on Jan. 16 took the lives of four young Manheim Central athletes, local high schools, including Penn Manor have been struggling to find a way to show their solidarity and support to a community that has been struck by the sudden tragedy.
Friday, many Penn Manor students wore Manheim Central colors, maroon and gray, to show their support.
“It’s the type of incident that can devastate a community, especially a close-knit one,” noted Roth.
“Everybody knows everybody,” said Roth.
Public outreach and support toward the Manheim Central community has been tremendous.
The medium that many are using to show their support is sports. Penn Manor football team members are raising money during lunches and the boys varsity basketball team plans a tribute throughout the upcoming week.
“A moment of silence is being observed before all sporting events in the L-L league this week,” said Roth.
All four were members of the football team so the Penn Manor football team went to the viewing for the athletes showing their support by wearing their jerseys.
“Groups came up to us and kept saying how grateful they were that our team showed up in support,” said Penn Manor football coach Scott Lackey.
Senior football captain Anderson Olson said, “It’s a terrible thing especially because it didn’t happen to Penn Manor and people from Penn Manor don’t realize the impact it had.”
The football team is also showing it’s support by walking around with buckets to collect money for the families to help pay for the funerals.
“We feel like we should do something for them in these tough times,” said senior football player Jessen Smith.
Penn Manor’s boys’ basketball team also showed their support at Monday night’s game by wearing Manheim Central-colored ribbons on their warm-up jerseys.
The sports teams at Manheim Central have showed their support for their fallen classmates in a variety of ways. Their wrestling team is wearing wristbands, their swimming team is using face paint to wear the students numbers on their face, and the basketball team is wearing white headbands in remembrance of their teammate. Monday night the girls’ basketball team wore warm-up t-shirts created to honor their late fellow athletes.
Other schools have also shown their support. On Facebook, Warwick senior Vince Soto dedicated his team’s overtime win against Manheim Township to Devaughn Lee one who was a victim in the tragic accident and was also a member of the Manheim Central basketball team.
There were many gestures that have been displayed through Facebook. More than 10,000 people have liked a group in support of the four students that have lost their lives.
“It’s going to take a lot of time to get back to normal just on a day to day basis.” added Roth.
The pain that the community and school is feeling is unimaginable but Penn Manor students feel like their support helps. The condolences and memorials cannot remove the pain but hopefully instead of remembering their deaths, people can begin to celebrate their lives.