Sometimes a bad situation brings out the best in a community.
Just as Worthington has rallied around Thomas Worthington baseball coach Stephen Gussler in his battle with colon cancer, Grandview Heights has been doing the same with one of its own. Grandview Heights High School mathematics teacher and coach Steve Hall recently was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. The high school alumni association has posted information on Hall's condition on its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GHHSAA.
Several locations around the city are selling "Hope Strength Hall" bracelets to raise funds, and tributes are being posted online. Many of these tributes can be found at the website CaringBridge.org/visit/stevehall2.
It seems we all have been or will be touched by cancer, and possibly lose someone close to us. It's never an easy journey.
But Grandview has taken an active approach, starting with the bracelets. Much like the "LIVESTRONG" rubber bracelets popularized by Lance Armstrong's battle with cancer, navy blue bracelets emblazoned with "Hope Strength Hall" are available at several locations including the high school, DK Diner and Ohio Taproom, all on Third Avenue in Grandview.
The sign by the bracelet jar reads: "$1 or donation."
"A parent in Grandview -- I can't say who -- bought about 100 armbands (to start)," said John Menke, president of the Grandview Heights Booster Club. "We plan to set up a booth at the Ox Roast (Sept. 5-7 at First Avenue and Northwest Boulevard)."
More than 2,000 "Hope Strength Hall" bracelets have been purchased, according to John Evans, owner of the Ohio Taproom. All proceeds from the bracelets have been going for food and lodging for out-of-town family and friends who are helping Hall's family.
"People are going crazy for (the bracelets)," Evans said. "We have them (at the Ohio Taproom) and they're at the DK, at the high school, and they have some in Steve's hometown (Haviland)."
The 6-foot-8 Hall was an all-state boys basketball player at Haviland Wayne Trace and finished his playing career in 1992 as a four-year letterwinner at Ohio State.
In Worthington, T-shirts in honor of Gussler were made with "Gus Strong" printed on them. Also, about 400 community members lined up on the Thomas football field Aug. 10 to spell out "Gus Strong," with an aerial photo taken to send to the baseball coach.
Hall was coach of the girls basketball program at Grandview for 12 seasons, ending in 2011, and spent 16 seasons leading the girls tennis team. He had been teaching until recently. Former athletics director Kathy Kinnard was an assistant girls tennis coach under Hall to start the season, but now is the head coach with Kristi Jump as her assistant.
"I think that it shows how much Steve means to a lot of people. The community has been incredible," Evans said. "There are a lot of people helping out and the high school teachers are doing fundraisers like selling T-shirts and some other things."
This is more than another example of a community rallying around one of its own. It's an outpouring of love for those Hall has touched as a parent, teacher, coach, colleague and friend.