By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
No one had any idea how it would turn out.
A tailgate party and fundraiser for the Elise Mobley Scholarship fund saw hundreds of Hilltoppers descend on the high school parking lot and more than $13,000 in donations pledged. And it was all in memory of a Houston High School cheerleader killed in an automobile accident earlier this year.
The community support also cost AFR morning show hosts Ron Shank and J.J. Jasper most of their hair.
“I said I would shave my head if they raised $10,000 and felt I was pretty safe,” said Shank. “But I didn’t know Houston and I didn’t know the impact Elise had on this community.”
American Family Radio spent the day in Houston after hearing of how Mobley’s death affected the student body. The football team wears “EM” on their jersey, there was a spark of passion in things eternal and a scholarship fund was set up in Elise’s name.
“We looked at a school in Louisiana where a player died on the football field and we heard about a coach who died during a game in Kansas,” said Shank. “But what we heard about this young lady, and how her friends and this community responded to this tragic event, let us know we had to come here and tell the world this story.”
AFR broadcast live from Houston High School most of the day Friday. Several stories and interviews were aired prior to the event.
“Houston has been unreal and has meant so much to our family,” said Keith Mobley, Elise’s father. “Words cannot describe what we have gone through and what this community has done in our lives.”
Mobley said having Elise’s friends hug his neck has been such a relief. He added that events such as Friday’s fundraiser and tailgate party also ease the pain.
“I will never be able to thank all the people who have done so much for us,” said Mobley. “There are others in this community who have been through this or something just as bad. Their kind words and support for our family will never be forgotten.”
Houston cheerleaders fanned out over the community last week and raised $7,850 in three days for the Elise Mobley scholarship.
“I didn’t have a single person tell me ‘no,’” said cheerleader Leigh Ellen Kilgore. “Every time we asked and told people what we were doing, they gave.”
Cheerleader Nikki Baird pointed out it was Elise’s life and not the tragedy that prompted the community support.
“Everybody knows how involved Elise was in the community and the heart she had for others,” said Baird. “Elise would have been doing this if it had been someone else.”
Friday’s day with AFR was highlighted by a giant tailgate party at Houston High School. Churches, clubs and concerned parents cooked pork loin, hamburgers and brought cakes and pies in all flavors and sizes.
Hundreds packed tents set up between the Houston Vo-Tech building and football field.
The evening was capped with Houston High School Hilltoppers playing the top-ranked Noxubee Tigers in football.
Mobley died Aug. 2, when the car she was driving was hit by an 18-wheeler. Mobley, 16, would have been a junior at Houston High School this fall. Her mother, Leigh Mobley was a longtime educator in the Houston School District. She also left behind two sisters and long list of Houston classmates and friends.
Anyone wishing to donate to the Elise Mobley Scholarship Fund can contact Houston School District administrative offices at 456-3332 or the Byrne CPA office at 456-5757.