Morning Sun
  • Colgan goes orange to support Payton Kannarr

  • The St. Mary’s Colgan Panthers and Frontenac Raiders have been sports rivals for decades, but they, their families and friends came together Tuesday to support a courageous girls’s battle against leukemia.

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  • The St. Mary’s Colgan Panthers and Frontenac Raiders have been sports rivals for decades, but they, their families and friends came together Tuesday to support a courageous girls’s battle against leukemia.
    Orange T-shirts filled bleachers on both sides of the SMC fieldhouse for the varsity girls and varsity boys basketball games. Orange is the color symbolizing the fight against leukemia, a cancer of the blood.
    On Nov. 8, a week after her 11th birthday, Payton Kannarr, a St. Mary’s Elementary School fifth grader, was diagnosed with leukemia. She first underwent chemotherapy through Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Mo., and is now at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md.
    Payton is the daughter of Dr. Shane and Amy Kannarr.
    “Her mother is a sixth grade teacher here,” said Nancy Hicks, St. Mary’s Elementary School principal. “Her grandmother, Mary Askins, taught second grade there for more than 20 years.
    “Payton’s family has given much to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and our schools through their talents,” said Fr. Chad Arnold, president of schools/associate pastor.
    Hicks said that it was decided to do a fundraiser, and the idea for the orange Team Payton shirts was born.
    “On the back there’s a cross and the words ‘She won’t fight alone’ and P4P, which stands for ‘Pray for Payton’,” she said. “Jock’s Nitch printed them for us. They really worked with us, and we’ve been able to sell the shirts for only $6, so everyone can afford them.”
    The next question was, what would be the best venue for selling the shirts?
    “We decided on a basketball game,” Hicks said. “Then we wondered, what game? Well, the Colgan-Frontenac game is usually pretty big.”
    But it didn’t end there.
    “We contacted Frontenac and asked if they would be involved,” Hicks said. “They’ve been selling them in Frontenac, too.”
    Spearheading that effort has been Cassie Buche, who teaches sixth through ninth grade girls physical education and health classes at Frontenac. It just so happens that her sister, Abby Farabi, is the head girls basketball coach at SMC.
    “Back in the fall, the mother of one of my athletes was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and I contacted Colgan and Girard,” Buche said. “Between the three schools we raised around $4,000 from selling T-shirts. It was a humbling experience for me that we could do that together.”
    She got permission from the Frontenac school administration and began selling Team Payton shirts.
    “I’ve sold over 550 shirts in Frontenac,” Buche said.
    Hicks said that more than 1,500 shirts have been sold so far and more were sold during the games.
    Just to add a little interest, Fr. Arnold volunteered to shave his head and beard during the interim between the boys and girls games. The elementary school class that raised the most money could decide on how he shaved his hair, and the second place class could vote on his beard.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The fifth grade won and decided that he would look good in a mohawk,” Hicks said. “His beard will be muttonchops and a moustache.”
    “I’m going to look kind of like Mr. T without the gold chains,” Fr. Arnold said, adding that he’ll keep the mohawk for 48 hours, then completely shave his head.
    He said that Payton and her family are in many prayers.
    “Every Friday afternoon, at the end of the day, the elementary school meets to say the rosary for Payton, and there are many individual prayers as well,” Fr. Arnold said.
    The youngster’s father, who was present for the game, said that seeing the support was overwhelming. He reported that his daughter is in a clinical trial in which her T-cells are being retrained to attack her cancer. She needs a bone marrow transplant, but must be in remission before she can undergo the procedure.
    She has two younger siblings, fraternal twins Brody and Sydney, 8. Brody will be the bone marrow donor.
    “He’s nervous, but excited,” Dr. Kannarr said.
    His daughter and her mother in Maryland were able to see the evening through live-streaming, thanks to Troy Comeau, Pittsburg State University director of broadcasting, and his students.
    “I think they hoped Payton could be here, but she couldn’t, so they came and asked us if we provide a one-camera set-up,” Comeau said. “I talked with my students, and they said that if we were going to do this, we ought to do it right, so we brought three cameras and two instant replay machines. Basically, what we do for PSU, we’re doing here at Colgan. The real issue is just for Payton to see this. We want to do a good production for her.”
    Student Taylor Dawson said that the evening was probably the best broadcast experience she’d had.
    “We just want Payton to see how the whole community is here to support her,” Dawson said.
    According to her father, Payton had been texting back and forth and was enjoying the live-stream.
    Frontenac won both the boys and girls games, but everybody was a winner.
    “I just think it’s wonderful we’ve crossed boundaries tonight,” said Robyn Harrell, proud mother of three SMC students and another who’ll be in school in a few years. “This is about caring for people.”
    Buche has the same feeling.
    “Regardless of rivalries and sports competition, this is about life,” the Frontenac teacher said. “We’re teaching life lessons here.”
    Additional reporting by Sarah Gooding.

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