Thank You Tulsa, Oklahouma
Tulsa team adopts Pass Christian High
Stars provide the only light at Pass Christian High School's McDonald Stadium these days.
That twinkle in the sky will get some much-needed assistance from Union High School in Tulsa, Okla., which has turned into bright rays of hope for the ravaged school and its athletic facilities.
Pass Christian native and now Tulsa resident Kevin Cahill read a sports report on the plight of his hometown school on The Sun Herald's Web site.
Childhood memories of Cahill, who was 12 in 1969 when Hurricane Camille wreaked havoc to Pass Christian, began to surface.
"I told the coaches and players about the suffering and devastation that was taking place in Pass Christian," Cahill said. "The (Union) team was shocked to hear the situations the student athletes were facing."
Union High School is the second largest school district in Oklahoma and the defending 6A state champion in football with state-of-the-art, million-dollar facilities for its sport teams.
"The players immediately wanted to help when Mr. Cahill brought it to our attention," Union coach Bill Blakenship said.
The idea mushroomed into a full-fledged project to send aid to help restore the athletic programs at Pass Christian.
"We have (gone) to friends and companies here in Tulsa and urged them to donate," Union senior lineman Kyle Craft said. "At first, we felt like all we can do is feel sorry for them, but we thought, 'let's do something,' and we started small, and then things really got going."
The football team and its booster club have been passing the hat at home games, where they enjoy crowds that top 10,000. The act has proven to be quite beneficial to the relief effort.
"We are trying to help them with equipment and with restoring their playing field that was submerged under 12 feet of saltwater," Blakenship said.
The effort involves all of the athletic programs at Pass Christian, as the school suffered catastrophic damage to almost the entire system.
"The students and I are very humbled by the generosity shown by the good people of Union High School," Pass Christian assistant principal Dr. Myron Labat said. "It is a real testament (and) an outstanding example of the American spirit displayed to our community."
"It is a real lesson learned in life for my players that you can make a difference in someone else's life that is less fortunate. (It) makes them see that football is just a small piece of the puzzle of life," Blankenship reflected.
Longtime Union Redskins booster Mike Lester praised Blakenship's instilling character into his players regarding the relief effort.
"He always puts God first, family second, school third and then football, and this is a perfect example of his tutelage," Lester said.
The vagabond Pirates will play their homecoming game at Lumpkin Stadium in Long Beach as their only home date, Pirate coach Kelly Causey announced on Monday.
"I don't know how to tell all of the people thank you for everything they have done for us," Causey said. "It has permanently shaped the players and I for the rest of our lives on how we think regarding helping someone else."
The vaunted Union High football team will wear Pirate logos on the back of their helmets as they defend their state championship on the plains of Oklahoma.
The Redskins logo of their adoptive school will also be worn on the helmets of the Pirates players when they take the field of neighboring Bay High on Friday night.
If one looks into the night sky, they will see that the Friday night lights from Union High in Tulsa are shining brightly on a beleaguered but determined group of Pass Christian Pirates.
By MIKE WOTEN