BRUNSWICK — A high school student wants to set a world record and raise money for two local organizations later this month by forming the longest line of people wearing blue T-shirts.
“We’re hosting this as a way to remember all the young lives lost in the Brunswick community,” said Patrick Meidenbauer, a St. Ignatius student and member of St. Ambrose Catholic Parish.
Four students who also were members of St. Ambrose died in a car crash in June 2012. Kevin Fox, 18, Jeffrey Chaya, 18, Blake Bartchak, 17, and Lexi Poerner, 16, were killed after Chaya’s car crashed into a ditch and tree on Boston Road in Columbia Station.
Following their deaths, students and parent volunteers established the Blue Pride Foundation to support scholarships and safe-driving programs in Brunswick area and Medina County.
In the two years since the crash, three other Brunswick students lost their lives.
In May 2013, Brunswick senior Cora Flemming died after a battle with cancer.
Tragedy struck again earlier this year when Matthew Homyk, 14, a freshman at Brunswick High School, and Anthony Gill, 17, a senior, were found dead in what police say were suicides three days apart in January.
Meidenbauer said Gill was his classmate at St. Ambrose School. He said the tight-knit Brunswick community has struggled to understand the loss of so many young people.
“A lot of people have been directly impacted by these deaths,” he said. “It’s affected everyone in one way or another.”
The Project Blue Line fundraiser Meidenbauer is planning for May 18 would bring together at least 5,000 people along Brunswick’s main artery, Center Road, to set a record for the most people in line wearing blue shirts.
He’s working on the project through The One Thing, a service leadership group.
Brunswick High School upperclassmen Alyssa Emery, Rachel Deighton, Rachel Gaylord, Rosevine Azap, Lovette Azap, Morgan Schultz, Nicole Siliko and Abbey Kraft are working with Meidenbauer to help raise money and get people to participate on May 18. His goal is to raise $40,000 for the Blue Pride Foundation and the Make a Wish Foundation.
The Make a Wish Foundation grants wishes for children with terminal illness.
The Brunswick Blue Pride Foundation has gone beyond simply providing scholarship. The group helps any Brunswick family in need, said Kimberly Bublik, president of the Foundation. She said she was happy to work with the students on the Blue Line project.
“They have a really enthusiastic group of leaders,” she said. “And it’s all about showing Brunswick pride and so we said ‘we would love it’ when they thought of making a donation to us.”
The students also have the support of the St. Ambrose community and the city of Brunswick. Meidenbauer credited St. Ambrose pastor, the Rev. Bob Stec, with brainstorming the idea of setting a record with the students.
In preparation for the record-setting attempt on May 18, students are hosting a “Blue-out” on May 16, encouraging students and community members to wear blue during the day.
On May 17, local businesses plan to support the fundraiser by offering portions of their sales from the day. A list of participating businesses still is being completed.
The group officially is kicking off the fundraising today with a visit from Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving at Brunswick High School. He’s going to stop by and sign a few balls to auction off as a fundraiser.
“He’s going to help us get a little bit of publicity and get the word out,” Meidenbauer said.
The group also plans to host a few local celebrities for the main event on May 18.
Business sponsorships and individual contributions are welcome, Meidenbauer said. Businesses can make a monetary donation or pledge a percentage of sales on May 17 to help the effort.
Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.