Metro-East News

Football game becomes celebration of Collinsville freshman’s life

Tray Turner's family enters Collinsville Kahok Stadium

Tray Turner's father, Joel Seib, middle, wearing a #TeamTray T-shirt and jeans, leads family members into the Collinsville high school homecoming football game on Friday night.
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Tray Turner's father, Joel Seib, middle, wearing a #TeamTray T-shirt and jeans, leads family members into the Collinsville high school homecoming football game on Friday night.

Inside a sea of purple filling the stands at Collinsville High School’s football stadium on Friday night was a group of white shirts that — by chance — looked like the shape of a heart. Those in the white shirts had #TeamTray on the front and a photo of 14-year-old Tray Turner.

Turner, a freshman, was injured in a fall on some stairs at the Madison County school on Monday and died Thursday morning at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. Friday night’s homecoming game against Granite City was more of a celebration of Turner’s life than it was about a football game between Southwestern Conference rivals.

Inside that white heart in the stands were Turner’s parents, Heather and Joel Seib. About 20 minutes before kickoff, the Seibs led a large contingent of #TeamTray shirt-wearing members into the stadium. Prior to entering the stadium, the Seibs met well wishers at the entrance to the stadium, each having to wipe away tears as they spoke to friends.

“It’s been an emotional roller coaster, to say the least, but it’s unbelievable the outpouring of love and prayers and affection and support that this family has received,” said Tray’s grandfather, Tom Seib. “Tray was a special young man, and the love that everyone is showing him, indicates that.”

Turner was on everyone’s mind.

A pregame tailgate party near the stadium featured a face painting station where students were getting #TeamTray painted on their faces. One of those at the station was a long-time friend of Turner’s, freshman Brady O’Neill. Tray and Brady have been attending the same Collinsville schools since they were in the third grade. Each studied at Collinsville Middle School last year before making the move to the high school this school year.

“He was really a good student and was really polite to everyone,” O’Neill said. “He treated everyone with respect, and it’s sad that he’s not here with us any more.”

Brady said Tray enjoyed dancing and having fun.

“He just liked to have fun,” Brady said.

Tom Seib said a lot of Tray’s fun happened outdoors. He said Tray loved to play sports among other outdoor pursuits.

“He loved to trout fish,” Seib said. “This summer, he drove a Sea-Doo for the first time and was excited about that.”

Even those in the visitor stands were wearing purple on Friday. Students at Granite City spent the day making purple ribbons and hearts to wear on school grounds and to the game. The student council at the school took up a collection for Tray during the day and presented a $1,300 check to KAHOKstrong, a Collinville High School student organization that supports students in need throughout the district.

Granite City senior Brian Ames, who serves as the school’s Warrior mascot, wore a purple ribbon as part of his costume.

“It was kind of shocking because of what the accident was,” Ames said. “It was kind of weird. We’ve lost a couple of people in the last year or so, so we knew how it felt. Other schools have reached out to us, so we knew it was our time to reach out to them and do our part.”

A group of students from Father McGivney Catholic High School in Glen Carbon collected funds at school and donated them to KAHOKstrong on Friday morning. The Collinsville High School football booster club donated proceeds from Friday’s 50-50 raffle to Tray’s family and sold purple lightbulbs. All proceeds from those sales also will be given to the family. Those who buy the bulbs are asked to keep them lit from Sunday through Saturday, Oct. 1 in honor of Tray. Several Collinsville businesses have also scheduled fund-raising events for the family.

The outpouring of support for Tray was no surprise to Jacob Post, a co-sponsor of KAHOKstrong.

“The thing I found so amazing is that not only are the people in this community coming together, like they always do, but people from Father McGiveny came with a donation this morning,” Post said. “The Granite City student council is bringing money over today. It doesn’t matter how much it is, it’s just the fact that they are doing and wanting to help our community.”

Tom Seib said the family was particularly thankful for KAHOKstrong’s efforts.

“This community has gone above and beyond anything I would have imagined,” he said. “I didn’t even know about KAHOKstrong before this week. KAHOKstrong answered the call. They didn’t even ask, ‘What can we do?’ They just did and said ‘This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to help the family.’”

Funeral services are scheduled for Monday. Services are scheduled to be held at 10 a.m. at Irwin Chapel in Glen Carbon, according to an obituary. Friends may call from 4-8 p.m. Sunday at Irwin Chapel, 591 Glen Crossing Road in Glen Carbon.

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