Penn State

‘Blue out’ vs. Kent State to raise awareness of child sex abuse

Last Saturday’s football game against the University of Central Florida was deemed a student “white out.” But Saturday, there will be a “blue out” as a way to celebrate both Penn State and a way to spread awareness about child sexual abuse.

Spokeswoman Tori Smith said the “blue out” was initiated two years ago as a public response to the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

She said students Laura March and Stuart Shapiro started the movement to “blue out” Beaver Stadium for the Penn State game against Nebraska on Nov. 12, 2011.

“March and Shapiro campaigned to have all fans wear blue, the color of ribbons displayed in support of child abuse awareness,” Smith said. “They designed a Blue Out T-shirt, whose proceeds went to Prevent Child Abuse PA.”

The second Blue Out was held on Sept. 22, 2012, for the football game against Temple, and Smith said that event benefited the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape’s Vision of Hope fund — aimed directly at combating child sexual abuse.

Saturday’s game against Kent State will be the third.

“The mission of the ‘blue out’ is to raise awareness about child sexual abuse while also raising funds to combat the issue,” Smith said.

Money is raised through donations and sales of official “blue out” T-shirts.

Smith said $9 of the $15 price of a shirt goes to PCAR’s Vision of Hope fund. The shirts can be found at the Penn State Bookstore or Family Clothesline. She added that State Shades is also selling sunglasses, and 20 percent of the proceeds from that also goes to the “blue out” campaign

Additionally, she said volunteers would be canning at the gates of the stadium for two hours leading up to kickoff.

“We have some 60 volunteers signed up to help can, and the stadium will be filled with fans clad in blue, hopefully in the official blue out T-shirt,” Smith said.

She said that given the poor weather forecast for Saturday, the stadium may be a little emptier than usual, but she still expects about 80,000 people to participate in the Blue Out.

PCAR’s Vision of Hope fund is a national organization that supports critical research and effective prevention strategies, services to victims and programs that increase adult responsibility and accountability of child sexual abuse, Smith said.

PCAR CEO Delilah Rumburg said for the last couple of years, the funds received through the “blue out” game have helped support the Situational Prevention Approach project that works with youth service organizations like the YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs on doing a safety assessment of the environment.

“The people from Penn State were specific on making sure the money went toward child sexual abuse programs,” Rumburg said. “That’s our primary focus. Our partnership with the university the last couple years has been wonderful.”

To date, Smith said more than $120,000 has been raised. The first year, she said about $47,000 was raised, and a year later, the event raised about $79,000.