ETSU softball to raise money for Bluffton baseball team
Wednesday, March 21, 2007

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 21, 2007) - The ETSU softball team will remember those who were a part of the tragic Bluffton University baseball bus accident, which occurred earlier this month in Atlanta, starting on Wednesday by taking donations during the rest of its season to help support the families of the players who were injured or killed in the crash.


"Every time our team takes the field this season they will always remember of what took place on March 2, and I never want my girls to forget what they experienced that weekend," stated head ETSU softball coach Andrea Mangrum.


The Bucs' softball team initiated one step to helping the cause as they created 1,000 purple wristbands that say "Bluffton Boys" and "Atlanta Bus Crash." The purpose of these bracelets is to remember the dreadful bus accident that occurred the first Friday morning in March, which took the lives of five members of the Bluffton University baseball team, the bus driver and his wife. People making a donation of $5 or more will receive a purple wristband, which resembles the same yellow LIVESTRONG bracelet that was created to raise money for cancer research and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.


The purple is used to remind the public of the school color of Bluffton University. People looking to make a donation can either do so at the remaining seven home ETSU softball games, or they can mail a check or cash donation to Coach Mangrum at P.O. 70641, Johnson City, TN 37614. These checks should be made out to Bluffton University and please note baseball team in the memo line. At the end of each month, coach Mangrum will mail the donations to Bluffton University, as well as mail wristbands out to those who contributed to the fund. 


            Members of the ETSU softball team had the opportunity to meet and console some of the Bluffton University players and their families after the accident occurred.  The Bucs softball team saw the story break across the television screen while they were eating breakfast in a Georgia hotel, and preparing for their first game of the Buzz Classic in Woodstock, Ga. (near Atlanta). After following the news story closely, the girls wanted to do something that would help the Bluffton team, and that is when they approached coach Mangrum to see what could be done.


On Saturday March 3, the Bucs were eliminated from tournament and that is when coach Mangrum called the hospital where the players were being treated. After a few hours on the phone, she finally was able to come in contact with a representative through the university. By getting in touch with the hospital and school representative, the Bucs were able to make a special trip to the ICU and visit with those who were still injured as well as their families that Sunday. The families gave the Bucs approval to make the trip to the ICU, and they were very touched and excited to see the group of girls showing their care and support. The ETSU softball team stayed in the hospital for over an hour, and became part of the Bluffton baseball family as they listened to stories from players, who were released, those who were injured, and their parents. Not only were the hearts of the Bluffton community touched by ETSU, but the hearts of the ETSU softball squad were touched as they realized not to take anything for granted.


            "This accident could have happened to anyone in collegiate athletics and I hope schools across the country get involved and show their support," said Mangrum. "I know my team and staff will never forget this experience, as not only did they touch the lives, of at the time complete strangers, but the Bluffton team helped us keep things in perspective for our team. Our girls now realize sports are not all about the wins and losses, but it is about overcoming obstacles and learning from these types of examples."


            Along with the wristbands, the ETSU softball team will honor the Bluffton Boys by wearing purple ribbons and lettering purple B's on their helmets. The Bucs' goal is to raise a minimum of $5,000, and hopefully gain the support of more universities and businesses along the way. For more information regarding different funds that have been set up for the Bluffton community and news stories please visit or click on the link above.