HAZARD—Barely a week after fundraising began for their assistant football coach, the $2,500 goal set by Hazard High School students and staff has been well exceeded thanks, in part, to a sizable donation from one of their biggest rivals.
“Perry Central come and said we want to order 200 and some shirts. That’s a huge order, since we only had 316 kids at the high school. I mean, that really bumped us up really quick,” Happy Mobelini, Hazard High School principal, said.
Earlier this month, assistant football coach and Hazard High School social studies teacher Chuck Fugate was diagnosed with leukemia, causing his students, coworkers, and community to reach out to help him and his family. The high school printed T-shirts sporting “Just Win Coach” on the front and “Fight Like a Bulldog” on the back in support of the coach with all proceeds going directly to his family.
On Friday, Perry Central High School students and staff were able to buy similar shirts to support Fugate.
Allison Jett, a teacher at Perry Central, said she got the idea after seeing a news story about what Fugate’s school was doing to help him.
“On our way to school I was talking to my kids … and I thought, well, if one of us was sick how cool would it be not to just see one school do it (wear the T-shirts) but to see other schools step in and help,” Jett said.
Jett explained she had planned to have her and her family simply buy and wear the T-shirts that were already printed in Hazard colors; however, after speaking with Neal Feltner, the principal at Perry Central, a plan for new T-shirts was conceived.
Feltner said after speaking to Jett he contacted Mobelini, who suggested changing the colors on the shirt to red and the wording to better fit a Perry Central student.
“Happy had the idea of, well, we’ll put the Commodores things on there and our students will be more likely to buy them or buy more of them, I guess,” Feltner said. “Our staff’ll wear them, students will buy them, whatever we can do to help the cause for Coach Fugate.”
Feltner said the school bought over 200 shirts reading “Fight Like a Commodore” for all the athletics teams and teachers at the high school, with more available for students to buy.
“At a time like this we all need to pull together,” Feltner said.
At the opening game of this year’s football season Friday night, a table was set up to sell the shirts to those attending the game. Perry Central Head Football Coach Justin Haddix said every member of his team would wear a shirt to support the coach.
“This is more important than any ballgame or rivalry or anything like that,” Haddix said. “I know Chuck and the coaches there … we just thought it was a good thing for them and it wasn’t anything about getting media attention or anything, we just wanted to do something to help support him.”
Mobelini said Hazard High School had a goal of $2,500 set for fundraising for Fugate, but after taking only a week to surpass it, he said the school is reaching out to the community for donations to match the original goal.
“We’re going to try to get people to help us match the $2,500 to see how fast we can double it,” he said. “That’s good for our little high school to be able to raise that much in a week.”
Mobelini said although he has not been able to visit Fugate recently due to his treatments, he has been able to speak to him.
“He’s getting a good report. He’s in good spirits. He says to thank everybody,” he said.
Jett said whether the colors and wording on the shirts had been changed or not she believes the school would have shown just as much support for Fugate.
“It’s not about Bulldogs and Commodores, or blue and gold, red and black. It’s about this guy’s life,” Jett said.