Following Saturday's mass shooting, two unlikely communities band together to help those in need.

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
September 3, 2019
Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

This is not a news story any reporter wants to write. But in times of tremendous sadness, the tiny glimmers of good serve as a buttress to support us all and lead us back to the light.

Friday night lights, even. As Texas, and the country at large, mourns the horrific shooting in Odessa this Saturday, which claimed seven precious, innocent lives, two rival schools have come together in an incredible way.  As USA TODAY reported, more than 100 teenagers from Odessa High School and Permian High School gathered Monday evening at Prairie Pete Playland Park to find ways they could support the victims and their families of this heartbreaking tragedy — despite the fact that the two schools are longtime real-life rivals (Odessa and Permian's long-standing rivalry is featured in the TV series Friday Night Lights).

Following a prayer circle, the young pupils brainstormed ideas for fundraising for the families impacted by the shooting. Organized by Bryce McKenney, 17, a recent Odessa High School graduate who now is a student at University of Texas-Permian Basin, students flocked to join together at the park beside the Prairie Dog statue.

“The Odessa-Permian rivalry is something crazy," McKenney told USA TODAY. "We don’t get along. But everyone’s together.”

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“I never drove so fast in my life,” Cole McNabb, 18, a senior at Permian Basin who was driving near the scene of the shooting, also said to the news outlet. “But after that, I couldn’t stop thinking about whether I could have helped. I was crying, freaking out, thinking ‘what if’ I’d done this or that. So, that’s why I’m here tonight. My only thought now is, how can I help?”

Amplified by the unity of his friends and football foes, it's clear their solidarity will ensure the help these students provide goes a long way.

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