‘Legacy Strong’ Community Focuses On Moving Forward

By Lauren DiSpirito

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4)– As the Legacy High School Lightning took the field for a coin toss in Friday’s homecoming football game against Prairie View High School, their opponents greeted them with a display of sportsmanship, by walking onto the field carrying a poster that read, “PVHS stands with Legacy.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The evening game, played at 7 p.m. At North Stadium in Westminster, was the Legacy High School team’s first since being involved in a fatal bus crash at Denver International Airport on Sunday.

Kari Chopper, 43, was driving Legacy players and coaches home from the airport after returning from a game in California when the bus crashed into a concrete pillar. Chopper was killed.

(credit: Denver Police Department)

(credit: Denver Police Department)

Three coaches suffered serious injuries. The school district said students sustained minor injuries. Investigators so far have not said what they think led to the crash.

Students said Friday the decision to play its annual homecoming game came down to the team, who ultimately wanted to take the field for their coaches and community.

(credit: CBS/Legacy High School/Facebook)

(credit: CBS/Legacy High School/Facebook)

Clarissa Shelley, a Legacy High School senior, told media gathered before the game students have rallied behind the team.

“We are not letting the circumstance hold us back from moving forward and growing and doing it out of support for the people impacted by the bus accident,” Shelley said.

Josh Chamberlain, also a student, said the phrase #LegacyStrong, used in social media posts about the crash and messages of support, has taken on powerful meaning.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“That really has united all of us together just in a way that we really didn’t expect but we really appreciate,” Chamberlain said.

Before kickoff, Legacy High School’s principal led the crowd in a moment of silence honoring Chopper’s life and her family. She also thanked 150 of the district’s bus drivers and their families who sat together in the stands to watch Friday’s game.

“To see them coming out and being part of this week of rallying together is really special,” Shelley said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The team itself had its own reinforcements. Three members of the Denver Broncos, T.J. Ward, Sylvester Williams, and Russell Okung, joined the players in the locker room for a pre-game huddle and took the field with the team. The Broncos shared video of their inspiring message for the Legacy High School players.

Before the end of the first quarter, Interim Head Coach Matt Craddock led the team to a 14-0 lead. It’s unclear whether the team’s two coaches who have been released from the hospital, Wayne Voorhees and Kyle Rider, attended Friday’s game. Coach Matt Kroupa remains hospitalized.

Lauren DiSpirito reports for CBS4 News at 10 p.m. She covers breaking news and feature stories along Colorado’s Front Range. Follow her on Twitter @CBS4Lauren. Share your story ideas with her here.

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