By George Khalsa
Special to Viva Loudoun
(Oct. 4, 2013) – On May 20, 2013 a level EF5 tornado touched down in the community of Moore, Oklahoma producing a swath of destruction that caused the death of 24 people, 10 of whom were children. This tornado brought winds in excess of 200 miles per hour in a 1.3 mile-wide path that traveled 17 miles. In addition to the human suffering millions of dollars of real estate was destroyed including Briarwood Elementary.
Briar Woods High School student Brooke Wivagg followed the story and decided she was going to do something to help. A sister school relationship between Briar Woods High School and Briarwood Elementary was established. Brooke led a fund raising effort that recently sent more than $17,000 to the school in Moore.
When Brooke told her 2012 Biology teacher Charlie Pierce about what she was doing, Pierce, head coach of the football team immediately decided that the football program has to get involved. The program donated money to Brooke’s effort and looked for a way for the team to make a visible show of support. Pierce sent a team picture and a note to the school. In return the elementary school sent back pages of “Briarwood Bears” stickers. Those stickers are now affixed to every Falcon helmet, next to the American flag.
After recounting the tragic events of May 20 in a team meeting, he told the team, “I’m serious about this. We are supporting the children of the Briarwood community. I want you to think of them as part of our family.”
The players have embraced the message. 6-5, 270 pound offensive tackle Chase Brown said, “It made me feel good inside to be playing for them. We’re wearing their mascot on our helmets… they’ll be with us the entire season.” Long snapper Matt Wolcott added, “I’ve never been to Oklahoma but now I’m rooting for those kids and I hope they know that we care about them.”
“We’re not done with this,” said Pierce. “We’re playing for the Bears for the rest of this season. We’re going to find a way to stay in contact with them and make more of a contribution. If nothing else, those kids are going to know that group of football players in Virginia won’t forget them.”