LaFayette High School football players honored for leadership during water crisis

Published 9:00 am Saturday, August 5, 2023

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Eight LaFayette students were honored on August 3 for their quick response and display of leadership during the city’s sudden water crisis in March. 

“These are great young men,” said Pastor Kelsey Barnes of Powell Chapel United Methodist Church and Goodsell United Methodist Church. “Their parents are doing an awesome job with them, and we want to recognize that.”

When the city water supply was disrupted due to storm flooding in March, eight LaFayette football players came out to support the community by passing out donated water bottles to the citizens who were going without. 

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LaFayette high school football players Ryan Ross, Bryan Ross, Cam Thomas, Ty Gates, Malik Burton, JR Robinson, Drae Brewer and Keylun Powell each came out to volunteer. 

Barnes and #Limitless at Powell Chapel United Methodist Church organized a party bus to take the boys to K-1 Speed in Duluth for a day of go-cart racing. 

The United Methodist Southeast District and PHYRE organizer Adrian Holloway helped support the trip.

When the city’s lake dam broke in March, many businesses and personal residences had to go without water or with very little water for about a week. Barnes and Holloway were among LaFayette’s leaders to organize water bottle donations for the citizens. 

On the first day passing out water, the community came out with great support. However, the following day, most of the volunteers returned to their day jobs. 

Barnes said they didn’t know what they were going to do. 

“There was a community need,” Barnes said.

After making a phone call, Barnes said students started reaching out to each other. In total, eight students showed up to volunteer. They stayed out carrying packs of water bottles for around six hours. 

“We ended up with these nine special young men who came out and volunteered their time, their sweat, and their service to their community, and they didn’t ask for anything in return,” Barnes said. “They never complained. They showed strength and leadership. I thought that that was a huge deal. Sadly, I personally didn’t feel that they got the recognition that they deserved.”

Barnes said the leadership and community support the boys displayed touched him. He and his wife decided to organize a day of fun to show them his gratitude and appreciation. 

“We just want to thank them, and it’s our hope that, through this, we will be an extension of Christ in the community and these young men’s lives,” Barnes said.

Goodsell United Methodist also has a nonprofit organization called ‘#Limitless’ which works to spread fellowship and outreach beyond the church’s walls.