GIRARD — For 22 years, Girard Middle School Paraeducator Cindy Owen has helped people at the gate during Girard Schools’ ball games, now the people she serves are giving back by raising funds for her.

Owen, who has worked as a para since 1994, was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time over Thanksgiving break.

Girard students, staff and community, spearheaded by GHS Girls’ Basketball Head Coach Brad Herlocker, raised funds through T-shirt sales, a chili feed and silent auction.

Liberal Schools also participated in the fundraising — selling about 80 shirts, making the total of shirts sold between the two districts over 700.

The silent auction had items from individuals and local businesses were not even solicited, Girard Middle School Teacher Kim Pitts said, people who cared and knew Owen brought the items in.

Pitts said proceeds will go to Owen to help with expenses, a much appreciated gift from the community, Owen said.  

“It’s a good feeling knowing not only coworkers are here to support me and the support from community and ball team tonight,” she said. “I appreciate it.”

Pitts said the two districts coming together to support Owen was amazing.

Herlocker agreed.

“I just can’t say enough,” Herlocker said. “I want to thank Liberal and their community for coming to support us and all of the volunteers who helped make this a great night.

“Most of the people in our school system did something to make this night successful and a lot of people in the community came out to the chili feed. Girard is a special place and I think we proved that once again tonight.”

GHS Boys’ Basketball Head Coach Rod Westcott felt the same.

“You can’t say enough about how good the community in Girard is,” Westcott said. “Coach Herlocker really ran with it and a lot of other people really did a great job.

“It was just kind of spur of the moment and the Girard community really came together for it. Liberal bought in too and they supported us as well.”

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun. Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.