Weber State University’s football team from Utah is set to play the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Saturday in the 2016 NCAA FCS Playoffs, and members of the athletic department have set up a donation page to help families affected by the tragedy.
“Athletics is a vehicle to bring people together for something bigger than the game and this is an opportunity for all of us to come together and think about others,” Weber State athletic director Jerry Bovee said, according to the Associated Press. “This is an awful tragedy and we want to do our part to support them.”
Professional basketball player Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers contributed to Weber State’s efforts by donating signed basketballs to help raise money.
WSU head coach Jay Hill and the Weber State Football team are asking you to join us in supporting the victims of the recent tragedy in Chattanooga. We are raising funds to provide any relief possible to the families affected at this time. All proceeds will be presented with love and support in the name of Weber State University and our generous fans. Visit WeberStateSports.com to donate. #WeAreWeber #WeberState #BigSkyFB #Chattanooga #Woodmore 🏈
Weber State and Chattanooga players will also honor the young victims with stickers on their helmets at Saturday’s game.
Earlier this year, Weber State head coach Jay Hill’s wife was diagnosed with cancer and their opponents at South Dakota came together to support their family, AP reports.
“Playing in Chattanooga this weekend provides our program a great avenue to pay that support forward,” Hill said. “I will be the first to donate, and I’m calling on all Wildcat fans to support as well.”
In addition to financial aid, others are supporting the grieving community with understanding.
Sharon Glasper of Knoxville, Tennessee, lost her daughter Seraya in a bus crash nearly two years ago that also took the lives of another child and a teacher’s aide. She felt compelled to visit the memorial site of Monday’s tragedy.
“We know exactly what they’re going through. I know their pain,” Glasper told News Channel 9. “The family needs the community’s support. That’s what’s gonna get them through — is the support.”
Glasper said the Chattanooga crash brought back all the feelings of losing her own child. She encouraged the community to look to their faith as they are healing from the loss.
“It’s gonna take a lot of faith and keep praying,” said Glasper.
The driver of the bus, Johnthony Walker, has since been charged with vehicular homicide.
Police allege Walker was speeding and driving recklessly when he lost control of the vehicle, according to an arrest warrant obtained by PEOPLE. A toxicology test found that he had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the incident.
It was Walker’s second traffic collision while driving a school bus in as many months, according to state records.