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Bereaved Texas Town Finds Comfort in a State High School Title Game

Wellington High, Iraan’s opponent in the semifinals, contributed $3,000 toward a scholarship fund in memory of Liz Pope, 52, the president of Iraan’s booster club and the sponsor of its junior high cheerleaders. The Wellington band also stood before Iraan’s supporters and played “Amazing Grace.”

Such generosity left Iraan’s cheerleaders, players, teachers and administrators enormously grateful, some overwhelmed to the point of tears. Jim Baum, Iraan’s principal, said the heartfelt offer of support from a cheerleader who phoned him from the town of Sonora, Tex., had dissolved him into a “puddle of goo.”

Tammy Kirchhoff, Iraan’s track coach, whose husband, Mark, is the head football coach, said: “I don’t ever want to be in a situation like this again, but it was the greatest outpouring of human kindness I’ve ever seen. Cheerleaders should run the world.”

As Thursday’s championship game approached, the grief in Iraan was still raw.

Christina Garlock, 48, the varsity cheerleader sponsor and a sister of Ms. Pope, remained hospitalized, having undergone multiple surgeries. Two of the cheerleaders were still on crutches. Two others wore neck braces. Another had her arm in a sling. One was said to be having nightmares.

A number of cheerleaders had sustained concussions in the crash, Mr. Baum said, and some found it difficult to concentrate in class or to stare at computer screens for long periods.

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