White Out: Truly a Battle for a Better Cause
The Ashburn community unites for a Ryan Diviney fundraiser at one of the biggest football games of the year.
An unthinkable tragedy … a fierce rivalry … a community united. On Friday night, Briar Woods hosts Broad Run in one of the most highly anticipated football games of the season. And regardless of the results on the field, the two teams and the Ashburn community will come together in an unprecedented show of support for Ryan Diviney and his family through an event dubbed "A Battle for a Better Cause."
Ryan's story is now well known in Ashburn and beyond: After suffering a brutal beating in 2009, Ryan remains in a coma-like state and requires costly medical care around the clock. What is not so well-known is how members of the Ashburn community – many of whom have no direct connection to the Diviney family – continue to work together to support the needs of their fellow Ashburn residents.
The idea for the "Battle for a Better Cause" came from a seemingly unlikely local connection. After taking the head-coaching job at Broad Run, Matt Griffis and his wife Robyn decided to move their family into the Broad Run school district. The person charged with helping the Griffis family find a new home was real estate agent Andrea McSorley, the mother of Briar Woods starting quarterback Trace McSorley.
"My husband and Matt have actually been friends for a long time through the Ashburn Youth Football League, and that's how I came to help them sell their home and buy a new one," McSorley said.
Sticking with the rivalry theme of their home buying experience, the Griffis family naturally turned to Kyle Jessop, father of Broad Run starting quarterback Connor Jessop, to serve as their loan officer.
"We often joked about how many quarterbacks it took to buy a house," said McSorley.
The fierceness of the Broad Run/Briar Woods rivalry was clear even to the youngest member of the Griffis family, who may have had reservations about his parents entrusting their home sale to someone from Briar Woods.
"Matt and Robyn's youngest son Brett said to me, 'Are we enemies Ms. McSorely?' I explained to him that even though we both want to win the game when we play against each other, we are still friends after the game," McSorley said.
Instead of serving as a platform for sabotage, the team of rivals worked together to secure the Griffis a new home, much to Brett's relief. It was through this process that McSorley learned of the Diviney fundraiser Broad Run sponsors through its annual "Maroon and Gold" scrimmage.
"We were brainstorming on ideas about how to turn the Maroon and Gold game into a bigger community event, and Kyle Jessop knows the Diviney family very well," Griffis said. "He did a ton of behind the scenes work to organize and obtain sponsors for the fundraiser."
McSorley was inspired by the efforts of Broad Run's team to support the Diviney family, and wanted to do more. She contacted Catherine Larco, the Briar Woods Athletic Boosters Spirit Wear coordinator, and they came up with the idea for the "Battle for a Better Cause" theme for the upcoming football game. The plan was to design and sell white T-shirts as a Diviney fundraiser, and have fans from both teams wear the shirts to the game to create a "White Out" effect and show Ashburn's support for the Divineys.
The event truly came to life when James Joppich and his company Reston T-Shirt and Graphic, Inc designed and donated more than 1,000 t-shirts for the game.
"We try to do a lot these events, and really thought it was a great concept to have two rivals coming together for something more than just the game," said Joppich.
Thus far, the event appears headed for a major success. The first batch of T-shirts sold out. However, more will be available at Briar Woods before Friday's game. Numerous volunteers from both schools as well as Stone Bridge will be collecting donations at the game. A Facebook page dedicated to the event already has hundreds of individuals listed as "attending" the game, and efforts are underway to have the game selected as WUSA television's "Game of the Week" to hopefully attract even more attention.
The outpouring of support from the Ashburn community has had a profound impact on the Diviney family.
"The Ashburn community has surrounded us, protected us and supported us in ways we never could have imagined," said Ken Diviney, Ryan’s father. "Ashburn has championship caliber teams throughout, and their championship attitude is shown through more than just their actions on the football field."
McSorely and the other event organizers encourage everyone attending the game to wear white, even those who are unable to purchase one of the specially designed T-shirts. Anyone unable to attend the game but wishing to learn more about Ryan Diviney or donate to his cause, can go to http://ryansrally.org/.