National Columnist

Colts, others rally around Dugger's small-town fight for survival

Fighting for its life, the little town of Dugger, Ind., isn't fighting alone.

The help has been rolling in from all over Indiana since CBSSports.com wrote about Dugger's plight on Thursday. Dugger's plight? The town of 900 was told several months ago that it was losing its public schools to consolidation. The town of 900 is aware that when a small town loses its schools, the small town tends to die.

The town of 900 said no, not here. Not us.

And the rest of the state, even beyond, is lending a hand.

As this town of 900 gets ready for the first day of school on Aug. 25 by building the Dugger Union Community Schools from scratch -- the charter schools need desks, chairs, books and gear for the sports teams that are the glue to the whole thing -- the Indianapolis Colts have donated $2,500 up front and pledged to be an ongoing sponsor. BSN Sports has donated football uniforms and $3,000 in Nike gear for players and coaches.

The Indiana Rail Road Company has given a pledge designed to inspire more help: $50,000 over the next five years -- if Dugger can find another sponsor to match it.

One of the Dugger area's biggest employers, the Bear Run Coal Company, is in talks with the school as well.

Then there's the people. Checks for $25 and $50 and $100. Chester Patton, a 1949 graduate of Union High in Dugger who made a career out of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in nearby Crane, donated $10,000. The mother of Greg Ellis, one of the most passionate supporters of Dugger schools, gave $12,000.

Dugger has set up a Facebook page to stay in touch with supporters and give updates.

The first chance for the community of Dugger -- and beyond -- to celebrate this small town's perseverance is Friday night at 6 p.m., when the football team plays host to Indiana Home School in the season opener for a season, and a team, and a school, that wasn't supposed to happen.


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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