UConn honors Newtown with fund, ceremony
HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut wanted to show that the Huskies care about the victims involved in the shooting of 20 children and six adults in their state last Friday. They did so with a memorial scholarship fund and pregame ceremony.
The school created the Sandy Hook School Memorial Fund that will offer aid for current students of the elementary school, siblings of those killed and any dependants of the teachers or adults who lost their lives in the shooting Friday morning in Newtown.
“It is not easy to conceive of the most heartfelt and respectful way to respond in the wake of such a shattering event,” UConn president Susan Herbst said in a statement. “Yet Newtown is in our own state and many of our students and alumni have ties to those who are affected directly.”
Over this past difficult weekend, Kathy and I gave much consideration to what we as a family could do that would have some significance for the future. Because UConn is so important to us, we decided to establish a scholarship and encourage other UConn alumni and fans around the world to invest in the future of the Sandy Hook survivors.
– UConn coach Geno Auriemma
Women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma and wife Kathy contributed the first donation, offering $80,000. Scholarship money for surviving students will be available upon their acceptance to UConn, while funds for siblings and dependents are available immediately, depending on need.
“Over this past difficult weekend, Kathy and I gave much consideration to what we as a family could do that would have some significance for the future,” Auriemma said. “Because UConn is so important to us, we decided to establish a scholarship and encourage other UConn alumni and fans around the world to invest in the future of the Sandy Hook survivors.”
The UConn men’s basketball team played its first game, an 84-50 win, since the shooting on Friday, and freshman Omar Calhoun wanted to make sure the victims were rightfully remembered.
“We just wanted to make sure we came out here and put on a good show for the crowd and stick together as a team, and play for everybody that was in that tragedy,” Calhoun said.
UConn sophomore guard Ryan Boatright had the letters “SH” on his left cheek. Shabazz Napier wrote the number “26″ on his right sock and “SH” on his left. Maryland-Eastern Shore guard Louis Bell had “S.H.E.S. Newtown, CT” and “12-14-12″ — the date of the incident — on the back of each sneaker.
“Man, it was heartbreaking just to know what happened to those kids,” Boatright said, adding he and teammate DeAndre Daniels have been watching the news all week. “I got two baby sisters that I’ve just seen that are the exact same age as the kids at the elementary school. It was a humbling experience and all my prayers go out to all the families.”
A brief pregame ceremony was held before Monday’s matchup against Maryland Eastern-Shore in honor of the 26 victims who were fatally shot at the school.
There was a moment of silence as 26 students holding candles and players formed a circle at midcourt. Eight members of the Governor’s Foot Guard of Connecticut stood with flags stood at attention.
UConn players wore patches on their game jerseys to honor the memory of the victims. The rectangular patch had a green background, black outline and the letters “SH” in white. The school colors are green and white.
UConn players attended a vigil on campus Sunday night. Coach Kevin Ollie said the team will plan to visit Newtown at some point in the future.
“We’re going to go down there and have a good practice or whatever they want us to do,” Ollie said. “We’re going to be available for them and hopefully bring a smile or two to their faces.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.