The Georgia Athletic Directors’ Association recently donated $3,000 to Ringgold High School to help with the repair of their school building from recent tornado damage. The below is a heartfelt letter by the President of the GADA, Bob Stinchcomb.
Courtesy of Bob Stinchcomb and the GADA...
Ringgold from the Heart
It did not take long to see that something had happened here. Pulling into Ringgold, one will quickly notices the blue temporary tarps which drape from the rooftops on many homes and buildings. Your eye observes an opening in the county side different from the crowded shadows of trees on one side of the road that was not present on the other. Piles of debris litter the roadside. Buildings are standing with one or two walls crumbled to the ground. The local hotel is missing its entire roof and side. It is hard to believe the beds can be seen from the roadside completely made up complete with comforters. Poles stand tall along the roadside that once held signage for local stores. All the signs have been blown out excluding one that had a message under a Wendy’s sign, “We are now open.”
A fence surrounds the campus of Ringgold High School. The look is much like a prison with chain locks on gates and men in uniforms moving wildly within confines of the crippled buildings. As you stand looking over the devastation, the words on the side of large truck bring reality to this destruction. The words in big red letters read, “National Disaster Team.” It made it clear that this community had a number of long and painful days ahead of them.
While taking pictures of what is left of Ringgold High School, you quickly see the pain in the eyes of those living near the school. Trees are uprooted. Homes are destroyed. Roads are closed and people of all ages are trying to get their lives and homes back together.
Where can these students, teachers, faculty, staff, and athletes turn for continuation of their education and lives? A savior in the disguise of an arch rival, Heritage High School, came to the salvation of a difficult situation.
As soon as the door opens to Heritage High School one can see the commitment to rebuilding the Ringgold community. Ringgold High School students joined Heritage High School. On the floor at the entrance is a large welcome mat in the school colors of both Heritage High School and Ringgold High School which reads, “When worse comes to worst, we all come together.”
The tornado of April 27, 2011 did not destroy a community. It provided opportunities for individuals and organizations to provide support to the needs of others. There is a saying,” we don’t need a hand out, we need a hand up.” Ringgold needed both. The community is standing now, barley standing but standing. They will be running soon in the direction before the tornado struck. When they do, a new friend, Heritage High School, will be at their side cheering them on. Well, at their side for all games but one.