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Students Organize Second 'Blue Out' to Benefit PCAR

by on September 21, 2012 6:00 AM

It's time to Blue Out Beaver Stadium — the sequel.

Back in November, when news of the child sex abuse scandal broke, Penn State graduate students Laura March and Stuart Shapiro knew they had to do something to help the victims.

“We were just sitting on the couch on a Sunday afternoon. Stuart and I were just so upset,” March recalled. “We wanted to do something. I Googled the ribbon for child abuse and it turned out to be blue. Things just sort of took off from there.”

During that emotional week, March and Shapiro organized a Blue Out. Most of those in the stands at Beaver Stadium against Nebraska on Nov. 12 wore blue.

“It was definitely an emotional day. We saw a lot of blue in the stands that day. When I saw the aerial shots of Beaver Stadium, it was just incredible how everyone came together,” March said.

Now, 10 months later, March and Shapiro have set out to duplicate last season's emotional afternoon. This week's contest with Temple at Beaver Stadium will mark the second Blue Out. Fans are encouraged to wear blue to the game, which kicks off at 3:30 p.m.

According to Shapiro, the university has gotten completely behind this incarnation of the Blue Out.

“I can't say enough about Penn State athletics, the administration. It's been a really strong partnership. We reached out to athletics and we set a date. It's really what we wanted to do. Penn State is so big into helping children. It's like another THON,” Shapiro said.

March and Shapiro have worked in collaboration with One Heart: Penn State Students Against the Sexual Abuse of Children. There's a line of merchandise, including special T-shirts for Saturday's game. Proceeds from the sale of T-shirts will go to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR).

“I think it's a really timely event for a couple of reasons,” said Kristen Houser, vice president of communications and development for PCAR. “What has happened at Penn State has really ripped apart the community. This is an opportunity for people to come together, cheer for your team, support your school, but also support victims and survivors of child sex abuse.”

For March, the Blue Out has a very special meaning. See, shortly after the first Blue Out, her father, Nick Petnick, passed away. In her mind, the two events will be forever linked.

“One of the last conversations I had with him, we were talking about the Blue Out,” March said. “So for me, this is an emotional day in more ways than one.”

In Novemeber, the first Blue Out raised $47,000 for PCAR in less than a week. March and Shapiro are hoping to make those numbers rise — significantly.

Student groups will be collecting donations outside Beaver Stadium and inside the gates.

“This effort has been incredible,” Shapiro said. “I make sure that we never lose sight of the difference we're making every single day.”

According to Houser, the Blue Out is chance to raise awareness and make a difference.

“One in five people experience sexual assault at some point in their lives,” Houser said. “This is a way to remind people that there are ways to help. As adults, we need to be responsible for protecting our children and keeping them safe.”

Those wishing to contribute can also do so through the website, www.pcar.org or text Prevent to 80077 to donate $10.

For more information about the 2012 Blue Out, visit www.blueout.org.



Chris Morelli is the managing editor of The Centre County Gazette.
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