FAIRBURY – Zane Grizzle had some down time this past weekend.
He was playing Xbox at home on Sunday, but none of his friends were online. He was bored.
So, he thought about the rest of his day. He thought about his drive to Beatrice for a basketball tryout, and how the drive took longer than normal, since both main roads into town were closed due to flooding.
“I thought about how the water is everywhere and I wondered if it’d get in the pipes,” Grizzle said. “So, I thought the water might be contaminated. So, then I thought, ‘why not just make a flier, post it around town, have people bring water into the school?’ Then, we can give it to whoever in Nebraska needs it the most.”
Zane, with the help of his parents Stephen and Gina, got in touch with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, and asked which communities could use their help.
The closest town was Peru – which had its water treatment facilities damaged by flooding over the weekend.
“They only had like three days left of water left in their water tower,” Fairbury boys’ track coach Derek Garfield said, “and that was a couple days ago. So, they’re in big-time need. You have the towns’ people of Peru, and you also have the college kids. Trying to keep an institution’s doors open with a water shortage is a very hard thing to do.”
Peru State College cancelled classes on Monday and Tuesday, but reopened Wednesday. On Wednesday morning, Fairbury students loaded 350 cases of water that were then hauled to Peru.
The high school received donations from at least nine local businesses and many others in the district.
Once Grizzle hatched his plan to help out, he contacted Coach Garfield, who was immediately on board. Even so, Grizzle is still amazed at the vast response and enthusiasm.
“Going into it, I didn’t think there’d be that much support,” Grizzle admitted. “But, when businesses and people kept on buying pallets and pallets, it just turned out awesome.”
So awesome in fact, Garfield roped in Fairbury’s other spring sports team to help the cause. He even challenged his high school alma mater, Aurora, to try and raise more water.
So far, the Jeffs have run laps around the Huskies. According to Garfield, his team is winning the challenge, 350-66.
“500 cases is our goal right now,” Garfield said.
Those at Fairbury High School have said that they’ll offer aid to whoever needs it in the coming days.
For Garfield, helping Peru was a no-brainer. Not only for its proximity, but also because Peru State is his college alma mater.
“Peru State had so much to do with where I am as a person right now,” he said. “I met my wife at Peru State. So, an opportunity to give back to an institution that means so much to me, that means the world to me.
“My community of Fairbury, coming through for my former community of Peru, that’s awesome stuff.”
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @Tommy_NCN.