PSU broadcasters stream fundraiser live for leukemic student
Garett McCullough | sports editor
“Unique” might be a word to describe what St. Mary’s Colgan fifth grader and leukemia patient Payton Kannarr has been through over the past four months.
Most people would consider any story of a battle against cancer to be tragic, but in this case, a community is coming together to help a young girl fighting for her life. One week after turning 11, Payton was diagnosed with leukemia. This is often news that is met with blank stares and silence as family members and friends search for comforting words.
More often than not, those words just don’t exist. Instead, Colgan and the surrounding communities decided to take action and give Payton something to cheer about.
The movement started with a T-shirt selling program and blossomed into a citywide tribute to Payton. Once the T-shirts were designed, the next step was to pick the right event in which to sell the shirts.
Colgan elementary principal Nancy Hicks and her panel decided that a home basketball game would be the best venue. This was not just any game, but against Colgan’s biggest rivals, the Frontenac Raiders, set for Tuesday, Feb. 12.
With the venue and date set, there was just one problem left: How could they make it so Payton, who is currently at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., could see the event dedicated to her?
The answer was right under their noses and they soon realized that Pittsburg State’s broadcast department has an entire set of classes dedicated to broadcasting sporting events.
All it took was one call to the department’s head, Troy Comeau, and the wheels started moving.
“We actually had a neighbor of Payton’s give us a call and said that they were planning this event for her and that she wouldn’t be able to be there so they asked us about the possibility of doing a one-camera setup,” Comeau said.
This was an odd request for Comeau, because he had never set up in the Colgan Fieldhouse and he generally wouldn’t run a one-camera setup.
The solution was a full production, complete with graphics and replay. The next problem was getting enough students to agree to an extra production on an inconvenient night for most college students, on short notice.
The moment of truth came during the next class when Comeau brought the game to his students’ attention.
“So many of them volunteered to be able to come out that night,” he said.
Not only did his students want to do the broadcast, they wanted full control. That includes three cameras, two broadcasters calling the game and a court reporter. Also, the students wanted to make the broadcast special.
“We had a couple of students who said they really wanted to tailor this for Payton because we were just doing a live stream to her and that way we could actually talk to her,” Comeau said. “We had a court reporter with a microphone interview her grandparents and stuff like that so she got to see that.”
The community has always been a big supporter of PSU and now these students prepared to give a little back.
Whether Colgan and Payton supporters knew it or not, they had just booked the best broadcast team for their particular needs. The sports broadcast team is used to setting up and performing in all conditions, both indoors and out. In addition, the students have the connection to the city and jumped at the opportunity.
PSU broadcasting has won national awards in the past. They have built up a reputation on a national level as well as locally. It says a lot about a program that competes nationally for contests and contributes to Pittsburg on such a personal level.
“It shows the quality of the students’ work,” Comeau said. “The community sees what the students do on CAPS 13 and they know the students do a good job and we’ve had other requests from the MIAA so we are used to doing stuff like this.”
One last technical detail remained. The CAPS 13 website usually shows the same programming as on television but PSU was able to disable the Internet programming and put up the event live.
As an added bonus, most sports broadcasts get re-aired on the following Tuesday and these two games will be no exception to the rule.
“We’ll probably go ahead and re-air the event especially since they were both great games,” Comeau said laughing. “So we’ll air it next week.”
The gym was packed with caring, orange-shirt wearing fans who constantly raised the roof in support of Payton and her family and CAPS 13 was right there to capture every bit.
Among the screaming fans were those closer to Payton, who were giving the opportunity to deliver personal messages, thanks to a camera set up near the entrance of the gym.
“We didn’t use last night as a promotional event for us,” Comeau said. “We were just making it about Payton and did our job.”