Rivals put rivalry aside for bigger cause
A gym that would normally be filled with black and orange on any given night was instead filled with purple when Bonner Springs High hosted Basehor-Linwood High.
There was much more going on Tuesday night than the rivalry game, which just so happened to be played.
This was the culmination of two schools putting their rivalry aside and coming together as a community to help somebody in need.
The game was merely a platform.
At halftime of the boys game, Jessica Masoner, a Roeland Park 18-year-old diagnosed with Lafora Disease, a genetic condition that causes fatal epilepsy, was followed by her family as well as a throng called “Jessica’s Army.”
After everybody was in place in the west side of they gym, with Jessica in the middle, Kansas City’s Secret Santa and his elves came in to — not only present a check for the $6,300 that BLHS and BSHS students raised — but to also present the family with a 2006 Toyota Sienna with a custom-fit ramp.
Secret Santa said after the game there was quite a bit of behind-the-scenes work, and a lot of volunteers, to help make this happen. He was first notified by Sergeant Mark Zaretski with the Bonner Springs Police Department and Captain Dek Druger with the Kansas Highway Patrol.
“They are elves with huge hearts and Sergeant Z called me and said, ‘I think this is something we want to be involved in,’” Secret Santa said. “He told me the story and I said, ‘Absolutely.’”
He was happy to be a part of this special night for Jessica and her family.
Secret Santa is a wealthy Kansas City businessman who goes around the country handing out $100 bills. He’s been doing this since 2007, taking over for friend and original Secret Santa Larry Stewart, after he passed away.
He does it to set an example, so that others may follow.
“Random acts of kindness can change the world, he said. “Kindness is the key to happiness. If I give somebody $100, they feel good and I feel good. If 10 million people see that, and if one million of those are motivated to do the same thing, now we’re changing the world. It starts with things just like this tonight.”
When BSHS senior Jordan Jackson was told of Jessica’s story by his teacher Jennifer Schlicht, he, along with his classmates, decided that something needed to be done.
“There’s more to life than sports,” Jackson said. “How we used sports tonight to help for a great cause and help somebody that was in need to get the van is huge. It’s awesome.”
Jackson’s coach Dan Streit, as well as BLHS boys coach Mike McBride, echoed Jackson’s sentiments.
For McBride, this is something close to his heart. He has a special place for kids in his heart.
“We’ve got to put things into perspective as far as what’s going on in the real world and understand this little deal out here is just a game, just a show,” McBride said.
“We talked to the kids about that. It’s like going to the movies,” he said. “(Actors) work hard on acting and their sets. We’re doing the same thing. We work hard behind closed doors, but it’s a silly game.”
Secret Santa isn’t surprised by Bonner Springs and Basehor coming together, as he’s seen it before.
He said what united them all is “in their heart, they have this great kindness within them.”
Streit said it shows that the two communities have strong character. He thinks every small community has that within them.
“Hopefully the family benefits greatly from this and cherishes the moment they had here,” Streit said. “I know our guys will and our fans will as well.”
McBride was impressed how a group of high school students took it upon themselves to help out somebody that doesn’t live in either community.
“It just shows with all the things going on in the world there’s still a lot of good going on,” McBride said.
As for the games that were played? The Lady Braves edged BLHS 56-47, while the Bobcat boys defeated BSHS 71-56.
Julianne Jackson scored 17 points for Bonner Springs before fouling out for the second game in a row. Kaleigh Taylor, who was also in foul trouble, added 13.
Victoria Smith was the game’s leading scorer, scoring 14 of her 23 points in the fourth quarter.
In the boys game, Chase Younger scored 21 points, Zach McNabb had 16 and Joe Gorman had 11 for BLHS.
Devante’ McGee had 15 and Brenden Dotson had 12 for BSHS in the loss.
Bonner Springs hosts Turner High tonight — its final game until a Jan. 7 at Piper. Basehor-Linwood returns to action Jan. 7 when it hosts Turner.