Catholic high schools unite to provide hurricane relief

Regis Jesuit and Mullen high schools host a drive at rivalry football game

Therese Bussen

After Hurricane Harvey left the city of Houston in disaster and Hurricane Irma threatened south Florida, two Denver Catholic high schools came together at their rivalry football game Sept. 8 to host a drive for hurricane relief efforts.

At what would have been an ordinary high-intensity rivalry game, the schools decided to come together for a relief initiative after Mullen cheer coach, Demi Zimmermann, organized a drive at the school during the week leading up to the Friday game.

“Mullen Cheer head coach, Demi Zimmerman, who recently relocated from the Texas area, initiated the drive by organizing the transportation of a semi-truck to the Houston area…students [rallied] together to donate essential items and fielded endless phone calls from the community who were all anxious to help. Saturday morning, a full semi-truck [left] the Mullen campus for Houston,” said respective presidents of Mullen and Regis, Carl Unrein and David Card, in a joint statement.

“This week, we collected donations for those affected by the hurricane. Seeing everything Mullen students brought to donate made me proud of what our community could accomplish,” said Mullen junior student, Mike Woodhouse, who is part of the student council.

Mullen High School gathered supplies from the community to send Houston following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. (Photo provided)

Zimmermann and her husband grew up just outside of Houston and said most of her family and friends still reside there. When she saw the devastation of Harvey, she was “heartbroken.”

“Many of our friends, family members, and co-workers lost everything. Some of them still have not been allowed to enter or get back to their homes due to stagnant and high levels of water that are present today,” Zimmermann said. “Rivalry or not, it’s important that our community recognizes that people should help people.”

Leading up to the football game, Regis also collected nearly $9,000 in support of displaced families from two Jesuit high schools in Houston and continue to collect funds.

“We are called to be brothers and sisters in Christ, and part of that is supporting each other when things are not going well,” said senior Regis student, Olivia Marie Ary. “These hurricanes have been devastating, and people in the southern part of our country are going to need lots of help and resources to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

Regis Jesuit High School students pose at the football game against their rival, Mullen, where the schools hosted a drive for hurricane relief. (Photo provided)

“[Having a drive] not only creates a feeling of support for those directly affected by the hurricane, but it also aids in a feeling of community and brotherhood,” said Mullen senior student Marguerite Whiteside, a student council vice president of service. “By coming together as a school, and community, we were able to support those in distress. The fact that the drive occurred during a rivalry football game is powerful. It goes to show that, yes we are rivals, but we are all humans who have the basic understanding of common good.”

Presidents Unrein and Card echoed the sentiment that the generosity of both communities “will serve those who have been dislocated from their everyday routines”

“Our rivalry melts away when heeding the call of our shared Catholic faith and serving those in need,” they stated.

COMING UP: A caveat on the great Tom Wolfe

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

When the great Tom Wolfe died on May 14 — he of the white suits, the spats, and the prose style as exuberant as his wardrobe — I, like millions of others, remembered the many moments of pleasure I had gotten from his work.

My Wolfe-addiction began on a cross-country flight in 1979, shortly after The Right Stuff was published. Always an airplane and space nut, I was fascinated by Wolfe’s re-creation of the culture of America’s test pilots and astronauts at the height of the Cold War. And there was that extraordinarily vivid writing. At one point I burst out laughing, scaring the daylights of the elderly lady sitting next to me but not daring to show her the passage — it must have involved Pancho Barnes’ Happy Bottom Riding Club, a saloon outside Edwards Air Force Base — that set me off.

After The Right Stuff got me going on Tom Wolfe, it was impossible to stop. The first half of Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers — Wolfe’s scathing account of a reception thrown for the Black Panthers by Leonard and Felicia Bernstein — remains the quintessential smack-down of political correctness among the 1% cultural elites. From Bauhaus to Our House explains why anyone with an aesthetic sense thinks something is seriously wrong with modernist architecture, and does so in a way that makes you laugh rather than cry.

Then there was Wolfe’s first novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities. One of its chapters, “The Masque of the Red Death,” takes its title from Edgar Allan Poe and with mordant humor dissects the vacuity of Manhattanites consumed (and in some cases destroyed) by their grotesque, over-the-top consumerism. I recently re-read that stunning set-piece and the thought occurred, as it had before, that it was a far more effective polemic against materialism than anything ever issued by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Bonfire was also brilliant in skewering the destructiveness of New York’s race hustlers, the obtuseness of a values-free media, and the fecklessness of too many politicians.

Asked once by monks who run a prestigious prep school what they might do to disabuse parents of the notion that their sons were doomed if they didn’t get into Harvard, Duke, Stanford, and the like, I suggested giving a copy of I Am Charlotte Simmons to the parents of every incoming senior. Wolfe’s fictional tale of life on elite American university campuses in the 21st century is a sometimes-jarring exercise in the social realism practiced (a bit less brutally) by Dickens and Balzac. But Charlotte Simmons, like Wolfe’s other fiction, has a serious moral core and an important cultural message. The young innocent, the brightest girl in town who makes it to an elite university, gets corrupted by stages: and her moral corruption is preceded by intellectual corruption — the class in which she’s taught that there’s really nothing properly called “the truth.”

I do have one post-mortem caveat to register about Tom Wolfe’s oeuvre, which takes me back to The Right Stuff (and while we’re on that subject again, forget the inane movie). The central figure in Wolfe’s tale of aeronautical daring-do is Chuck Yeager, the man who first broke the “sound barrier” in the Bell X-1, and did so with a couple of broken ribs, which he managed in flight with the aid of a sawed-off broom handle. Yeager was an extraordinary figure who never became a national celebrity because of the (absurd) news blackout surrounding the X-1 project, and Wolfe clearly wanted to pay tribute to him as an unsung American hero.

To do so, however, Tom Wolfe seemed to think he needed a foil, and he cast astronaut Gus Grissom in that role: “L’il Gus,” the Hoosier grit lampooned as a bumbler to make Yeager look even better. And that was a grave disservice to the memory of Virgil I. Grissom, who did not mess up the second Mercury space flight (Wolfe’s account notwithstanding), and who gave his life for his country in the launch pad fire that consumed Apollo 1 — which Grissom knew to be a deeply flawed spacecraft and had urged NASA to improve.

So now that Tom Wolfe and Gus Grissom have both crossed what Wolfe once called the Halusian Gulp, I hope these two American patriots are reconciled. Both had the right stuff.