Vernon Vikings lacrosse team honours Welles Crowther

AIM Vernon

When the Vernon Township High School lacrosse team closed out their season last month, they did not go quietly. Not only did they win the division title at the last game by beating High Point in a resounding 15-3 victory, they honored another athlete who sacrificed his life saving others on 9/11. The Red Bandanna Project, created by the parents of Welles Crowther, is much more than simply a fundraiser. It is a school curriculum designed to promote leadership, caring, sportsmanship, putting others first, and forgiveness. The VTHS lacrosse team collected enough money at their final matchup to donate $320 to help keep the program going.

Vernon Vikings team members in red bandanas photo AIM Vernon

Vernon Vikings team members in red bandanas photo AIM Vernon

Phil Tintle, the district supervisor for Social Studies and a former coach, has been personally involved in the Red Bandanna Project for three years, helping to actually write the curriculum that provides lessons for students from the primary to the secondary level. Their inspiration is the shortened life of Crowther, who demonstrated fair play, sportsmanship and teamwork.

Crowther received a red bandanna from his father when he was 6, and it became his trademark, one he was rarely without. As a college lacrosse player for Boston College, he wore it under his helmet. His work as an equities trader put him in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, a day on which he apparently still carried with him that red bandanna.

When the tower was attacked, he used the bandanna as a mask as he kept returning to the upper floors to lead survivors down the stairs, administering first aid, and helping the firefighters who were eventually killed in the South Tower lobby when the building collapsed.

He was called out last year when President Barack Obama dedicated the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Obama said, “They didn’t know his name. They didn’t know where he came from. But they knew their lives had been saved by the man in the red bandanna. He called for fire extinguishers to fight back the flames. He tended to the wounded. He led those survivors down the stairs to safety, and carried a woman on his shoulders down 17 flights. Then he went back. Back up all those flights. Then back down again, bringing more wounded to safety. Until that moment when the tower fell.”

One of Crowther’s bandannas is on display at the museum.

For further information, watch ESPN.com’s video, “The Man in the Red Bandanna,” or go to crowthertrust.org.

 

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