UNIVERSITY PARK — Students stood at the gates of Beaver Stadium on Saturday afternoon taking collections to help fund a project aimed at spreading awareness about — and putting an end to — child sexual abuse.
“We’re playing for ourselves and for a good cause,” said Penn State junior Joe Turek.”It’s just good that an entire university can all stand strong against this issue.”
Fans attending the football game against Kent State were encouraged to wear blue as part of a “blue out,” an initiative led by Penn State students as a public response to the Jerry Sandusky scandal and a way to spread awareness about child sexual abuse.
Spokeswoman Tori Smith said partial proceeds from sales of shirts benefit the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape’s Vision of Hope fund — a project aimed at tackling child sexual abuse.
“One team, one school, one heart, one promise” was the “blue out” slogan this year.
Dozens of fans could be were seen in those blue shirts, which featured the words “Blue Out” and the symbol of a ribbon, and “We are Penn State” with the “blue out” slogan inscribed around it.
However the sea of blue spread across the student section in the stadium quickly switched to multicolored raincoats, as fans tried to keep dry from the rain that fell throughout the day.
“We’re trying to keep dry and at this point I’m not even sure it matters that our blue is showing,” said Tyson Kendrick. “This whole stadium and everyone watching knows we’re here for two reasons today: to cheer on our team and to recognize the problem with sexual abuse.”
Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” also made its return to the gameday playlist. The song was dropped last season, though university officials said at the time that the decision was not due to lyrics that include “Hands, touching hands, reaching out, touching me, touching you.”
Jeff Nelson, assistant athletic director for communications, said “Sweet Caroline” has the most requested song by fans this seaason.
For fans, Saturday was all about raising awareness, raising money and giving an extra voice to victims.
“It was unfortunate about what happened and it immediately gave Penn State a bad name,” junior Zach Rittle said about the Sandusky scandal. “This shouldn’t define us and we’re here among 100,000 others to show that we can help be a force in the fight against child sexual abuse.”
Total ticket sales were just more than 92,300.
“We’re holding a game that really serves a larger purpose,” Turek added, who said he had been a part of the “blue out” since it started in 2011.
This was Penn State student Jesse Exum’s, who camped overnight at Nittanyville, attended her “blue out” game Saturday.
“It’s important to show our support in other ways,” Exum, a senior, said. “I think this is really important after everything that’s happened. It sheds positive light on a negative situation and Penn State fans are at the foreground of it.”
The goal for the “blue out” was to raise about $40,000 this year. Since the initiative began in 2011, more than $120,000 has been raised.
Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @M11azzo.