WEIRTON - Weirton has long been known as a town where neighbors help neighbors in need.
Last week, the good people of Weirton (and many from surrounding areas) came together to clean snow and ice from the Jimmy Carey Stadium turf to provide a clean playing surface for the Madonna semifinal playoff football game with visiting Williamstown.
The snow with ice underneath had been on the field since the Blue Dons defeated Wahama through a near whiteout in the quarterfinals the previous week.
Photo courtesy Tamara Green Photography
WORKING TOGETHER — Members of the Weirton and surrounding communities came together last week to help clear Jimmy Carey Stadium.
Photo courtesy Tamara Green Photography
FINISHED — Jimmy Carey Stadium after members of the Weirton and surrounding communities came together last week to help clear it.
"It was incredible the amount of people who showed up, especially being the morning after Thanksgiving," said Madonna head football coach, Doug Taylor. "That was the real spirit of Thanksgiving and the players and coaches of the Madonna football team are truly appreciative."
Taylor said he got to the stadium about 8 a.m. and there was two or three inches of snow covering a layer of ice and slush with the snow that had fallen during the Wahama game on the bottom.
Jon Kendrick, Madonna Athletic Director, said it was apparent that the Hancock County Schools maintenance workers would never be able to remove all that was on the field in time for the Saturday semifinal game with Williamstown so a call went out for volunteers to help.
Everything had to be done by hand and needed to be done with plastic shovels because anything else would damage the turf, which was installed for the 2012 football season.
"With it being Thanksgiving, it is just a great story of a community coming together," said Kendrick. "We had over 100 people show up at the stadium including Madonna football parents, non-football school parents, the football coaches, Madonna students, Weir High students, some Steubenville Central fans, relatives of people in town, who live elsewhere, but were home for the holiday including some from as far away as Canada and Missouri.
"In addition, there was Hancock County Schools Director of Maintenance, Mark Dziatkowicz accompanied by a crew of workers and even Hancock County Superintendent of Schools, Sue Smith. In two hours we had the entire field cleared as well as the sidelines around the field."
Mike Del Re, the Weir High Dean of Students and Activities Director, who also was there to help said: "It is not a big deal in our city for this to happen."
"When one of our two teams in the city gets to the playoffs, the whole community becomes their fans," he continued. "A lot of people follow both programs and this was a good opportunity for everybody to pitch in. I even saw some people from Oak Glen.
"Madonna has a nice group of athletes. They have worked hard and it was nice to have all that hard work rewarded."
On the Weir High Football Boosters Facebook page was a letter from Carl Thompson:
"It was great to hear our Hancock County Superintendent of Schools, Mrs. Sue Smith, our Athletic Director, Mr. Mike Del Re, the Weir High Band Boosters, Weir High Key Club and National Honor Society students assisted the Madonna football fans, coaches, staff and parents in shoveling the snow and ice off our Jimmy Carey Stadium field.
"It makes me proud that my son is a Red Rider and that we live in a close, caring, benevolent community full of genuinely good people.
"It was a pure class act by the individuals from Weir High School, who selflessly assisted another school during a time of need. Knowing the Madonna family, I am sure they would have done the same for our Red Riders if the roles were reversed.
"It should only be natural to be supportive and proud of success in our Weirton community regardless of who is succeeding at the time and the colors they wear. Many of these Madonna kids and their families are our neighbors, family, friends, associates and contributors to something positive and special with 'Weirton' attached to it.
"The field looked great! Congratulations to the Madonna Blue Dons for another hard-fought and well deserved win! Good luck in the Class A state championship game at Wheeling Island next week."
Kendrick, who is a Madonna alumni, played football for the Blue Dons and also is an assistant coach, said he looked around during the snow cleaning and saw faces of people he coached in the past, played against, coached against, coached with, worked with and people he didn't know.
"But everybody had a smile on their faces," he said. "I was absolutely amazed at the turnout we had. It was a perfect example of the spirit of Thanksgiving.
"Madonna called for help and the community came running. It didn't matter if you wear blue and silver or red and black. Everyone pulled together to support our team.
"It was hard to take in how many people came to help and I had many calls to say they would be there, but either had previous plans or were working. It truly was amazing.
"It did not really sink in until I had a mother of one of our seniors come up to me with tears in her eyes and said: 'I just can't believe all these people came to help my son and his team.'"
Kendrick said he wants to thank all those who showed up and those that wanted to be there, but couldn't.
"As athletic director, as a football coach, as someone who cares about Madonna and cares about our team, I say thank you," Kendrick continued. "We could have not made this game possible without our community and with this being Thanksgiving weekend, the Weirton community just showed us the true spirit of the holiday season."