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Fans encouraged to attend ‘Blue Out,’ support fight against child abuse

by on November 20, 2014 9:32 AM

UNIVERSITY PARK — A Penn State student group will continue the tradition of the Blue Out game when the Nittany Lions host the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday, Nov. 27, at Beaver Stadium.

The event, which has taken place annually since 2011, is organized by One Heart: Penn State Students Against the Sexual Abuse of Children and continues to be a leading way to raise awareness and funds to prevent child abuse. Attendees are encouraged to wear blue, the official color of the cause.

The first annual Blue Out game took place days after former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing a number of young boys over a 15-year period. While the situation was devastating to the Penn State community, graduate students Laura March and Stuart Shapiro wanted to organize an event to bring everyone together and work toward preventing child abuse.

“They saw a need,” said Danielle Roethlein, the public relations director for One Heart. “At that time, many people in our community were unaware that this was happening.”

The 2011 Blue Out game raised about $40,000. Since, more than $150,000 has been donated to Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. This year, PCAPA is the sole beneficiary.

“We’re really excited about this partnership (with Penn State),” said Dr. Maria McColgan, the medical director for PCAPA and a pediatrician at St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia. Much of PCAPA’s focus, she said, is on preventing child abuse.

Educating parents and caregivers about what it means to be a good provider for a child is one of the most important things, McColgan said. Knowing how to recognize if a child is being abused or if someone is targeting a child for abuse are also main concerns.

“We want to empower parents to be cognizant of these things,” she said. “The fact that Penn State supports this is huge. To have their support is a big step in the right direction.”

One Heart, like the Blue Out, was also founded in 2011. The following year, the organization took over the event, which Roethlein said “seemed fitting.”

Penn State’s large student body and surrounding community are poised to make a difference, she said, by bringing attention to child abuse through attending the Blue Out game and donating to the cause.

T-shirts, sweatshirts, winter hats and handmade hair bows will be sold at The Family Clothesline downtown, the Penn State Bookstore on campus and the bookstores of the Penn State branch campuses.

Donation boxes will also be put in some downtown locations, and Roethlein said that donations can be accepted online at the Blue Out game website.

During the game, there will be a halftime recognition when the One Heart executive board will be introduced.

“The Penn State athletics department has been a huge help in planning this event,” she said. “From making time for us during halftime to allowing us to collect money at Beaver Stadium before and during the beginning of the game, they have certainly been a large part in the effort to make the Blue Out a success and raise awareness of child abuse prevention.”

While the Blue Out game is One Heart’s biggest annual event, Roethlein said the organization tries to bring attention to preventing child abuse throughout the year with speakers and training sessions.

For more information about the Blue Out game and One Heart, visit or

Brittany is the staff writer for The Centre County Gazette.
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