Saturday, July 24, 2004

Kids collect for a funeral

Withrow students rally for family of teen who saved friend

By Meagan Pollnow
Enquirer staff writer

BOND HILL - Dozens of soccer players and students from Withrow International High school crowded around a parking lot Friday at the Jordan Crossing shopping center on Reading Road, washing cars.

But they weren't sloshing around the buckets of soap and water for new uniforms or a field trip.

The students are raising money for the funeral and family travel expenses of their friend and teammate Thierno Barrie. Thierno, a 15-year-old student from Guinea, drowned in an apartment swimming pool July 12 while trying to save his best friend, Abdul Aziz, 16.

William Sprankles, Withrow's soccer coach, organized the fund-raiser and hopes to collect more than $25,000. The group, which started at 8 a.m., had accumulated more than $500 by noon and $3,200 by 4 p.m. Sprankles has also collected more than $12,000 from local businesses.

"Help from the community has been tremendous," he said.

Edward Green, who teaches English as a Second Language, stopped by to help collect donations.

Although Thierno wasn't in Green's class, the teen would come in his room and visit with other international students.

"He was the kind of student that makes a teacher want to be a better teacher," Green said.

Thierno was generous with his friends, often lending them clothes, CDs or video games, according to Sprankles.

"True unselfishness is when you don't even think twice to save your friend from drowning," he said. "It takes a lot of courage to know you may not come out that pool."

Sprankles said Thierno's death has been hard on the team. Sprankles plans to buy patches of the Guinea flag to sew onto the team's jerseys next season.

Sprankles said he has been working at least 18 hours a day to raise money to help Thierno's family.

"I've never worked so hard at anything in my life," he said. "But it's worth it."

Sharon Johnson, principal of Withrow International High School pulled into the parking lot around noon with at least 20 pizzas.

"We're a family," she said of the students, staff and faculty. "We are about human beings, we're about working together.

"We have to set an example that you've got to put your heart and spirit into the community," she added. "What else is there?"

If you go

What: Car wash to help raise money for expenses for family of Withrow International High School student Thierno Barrie, 15, who drowned July 16 after saving his best friend.

When: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. today. Where: Jordan Crossing shopping center, 7030 Reading Road, Bond Hill.

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