Words From the Pope: Outpouring of support after Omogbo tragedy reminds us of the good of humanity

Keegan Pope

 Sports Reporter Keegan Pope
Keegan Pope

Tuesday night, as I was driving home, I checked my Twitter feed. 

I’m sure my parents wouldn’t be happy to read that sentence, but as a tech-addicted journalist, it’s unfortunately become a habit of mine. 

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After what I thought had been a difficult first day of school, I was suddenly reminded just how small my daily problems, like showing up late for two classes and dealing with CSU’s hellish parking lot situation, actually are. 

As I was scrolling through my timeline, I stopped on a tweet by a colleague of mine. 

In it, I saw the news that the parents and two-year old niece and nephew of Colorado State men’s basketball player Emmanuel Omogbo had been tragically killed in a house fire early Tuesday morning. And my heart immediately dropped. I don’t know Emmanuel well, and I’ve only talked to him two or three times over the course of this season. But that kind of news, regardless of how well you know someone, hits you like a ton of bricks. 

The thought of losing my mother and father absolutely horrified me, but as the uncle to four adorable nieces, all under the age of five, the thought of losing them brought me to tears as I rounded the corner into my driveway. Those little girls mean the world to me, and I assume Emmanuel’s niece and nephew meant the same to him.

I don’t claim to be some tough guy — as I will admit I’m a huge fan of romantic comedies and country music — but somehow, despite seemingly becoming numb to all of the horrible things in this world, this one hit really close to home. I’ve suffered my fair share of loss, like everyone else has, but even the idea that Emmanuel Omogbo will never see his parents, or his niece and nephew again made me sick to my stomach. I’ve lost, but never like this. No one, no matter who they are, should have to endure this. 

If you’ve watched national news recently, there hasn’t been a whole lot to smile about. We’re inundated with so much news about death, destruction and discrimination that it often becomes hard to find good in the world. It seems that every news station or newspaper is littered with these stories, and we as media consumers almost become numb to it. 

There’s so much of it that we simply acknowledge it, scroll past it and compartmentalize it in our brains. 

But in the midst of so much sadness and heartbreak, a number of people chose to help instead of standing idly by in the midst of this horrific tragedy. Because of NCAA rules, which I may or may not wholeheartedly disagree with, prohibit anyone from donating or giving money to student-athletes unless it is set up through the school’s compliance department. A number of CSU fans and concerned citizens started their own fundraising campaigns to assist the Omogbo family, but were quickly asked to take down the accounts so not to compromise Omogbo’s eligibility. 

Then, this afternoon, the Colorado State compliance department started a GoFundMe account to support Omogbo and his family with their expenses for the impending funeral, as well as other medical and miscellaneous expenses. 

The account, which went online just after noon Mountain time, wasn’t announced by the CSU athletic department on social media until 3:15 p.m. Within 45 minutes, the initial fundraising goal of $10,000 had been surpassed, and the goal was immediately raised to $20,000. But despite how impressive the sheer numbers are, the cross-section of people who shared the page via social media and donated is far more striking. What started as donations from a handful of Colorado State supporters quickly spread, and people such ESPN sports personalities Scott Van Pelt and Mike Golic contributed to the fund. Fans from Mountain West schools kicked in their part. Supporters of in-state rival Colorado pitched in. And even San Jose State head basketball coach Dave Wojcik donated $300 of his own money to assist a player he’ll face in less than two weeks. 

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As of 5 p.m., more than $18,000 had been raised on the GoFundMe page, less than two hours after the school announced the campaign via its Twitter account. 

Moments like this remind us that despite all of the pain and hurt we see each day, true kindness, compassion and love know no bounds. It doesn’t matter who or where you are, you can make a difference in someone’s life. 

 No matter your beliefs or your background, compassion is a worldwide language.  On days like today, school colors and affiliations don’t matter, because at the end of the day, at our core, we’re all very similar. 

So, thank you for your compassion and support.

Thank you for helping a young man and his family who have suffered an unimaginable tragedy.

Thank you for your generosity. 

And most of all, thank you for restoring this 22-year-old’s faith in humanity. There are a lot of things that will make it hard to smile, but don’t ever underestimate the power of good people.

The Pope has spoken.

Note: You can donate to the GoFundMe page in support of Emmanuel Omogbo at https://www.gofundme.com/omogbo.

Collegian Senior Sports Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at kpope@collegian.com and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.