ELWOOD, Ind. — Two rival high schools joined together to support one cause on Friday for the first night of high school football in Indiana.
This week, the Elwood Panthers faced off against the Shenandoah Raiders — a school more than 35 miles away.
Despite the distance and being rivals, the Shenandoah cheer team said the night was about coming together to show respect for fallen officers.
“That’s something special when both communities can come together for one cause,” said Ryan Vanskyock, the Elwood High School Athletics Director. “To be able to basically go out there and play and honor those two people that we are tonight – it’s going to be somethin’ special.”
Elwood students were welcomed through the gates by a banner honoring fallen officer Brad Capshaw, a former youth pastor and Elwood PD Chaplain who died in a car accident exactly one year ago, and fallen officer Noah Shahnavaz, an Elwood police officer killed in the line of duty last month.
“I think it’s important to show respect, honestly,” said Shenandoah senior, Ashlynn Sears. “Show that we’re here even though we’re against [each other], and not at the same school, and we’re nowhere close, but we’re still here to support.”
The Shenandoah cheer team sold t-shirts and wristbands in the weeks leading up to gameday all with the goal to donate that money to Noah Shahnavaz’s family. A special check presentation was held just before kick off.
“[The fundraiser] way exceeded our goal,” said Jessica Armstrong, the Varsity Cheer Co-Coach for Shenandoah High School who spearheaded the fundraiser. “Our goal was $1,000 and we hit $4,300 so it’s very humbling. It’s awesome that they all supported this.”
Armstrong said Shahnavaz’s sudden death hit close to home – her husband is an Anderson police officer of nearly 15 years.
“It’s honestly really cool to see like our whole community really come together,” said Shenandoah senior, Alissa Waymire.
“For us, this is not just going to be a one time thing,” said Vanskyock. “We’re going to continue to carry this tradition and his name yearly so we’re honored to be able to do that out here on the football field tonight.”