The Lexington-River Bluff rivalry will take a backseat to a bigger cause Tuesday night.
The schools’ basketball game at Lexington will act as a fundraiser for River Bluff defensive coordinator Brian Thompson, who was diagnosed last month with cancer of the bladder, colon and liver.
Thompson coached at Lexington, in addition to stops at Dutch Fork and Brookland-Cayce, before landing at River Bluff.
A dollar from each ticket sold for Tuesday’s doubleheader will go to the Thompson family.
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“It puts things in perspective when we got things like this happen. He is a good friend of mine, even better person,” Lexington football coach and athletics director Josh Stepp said. “We jumped at the opportunity to do something to help. You put rivalry aside when you got a chance to help a friend.”
In addition to the money from ticket sales, Stepp said there will be a table set up for people to donate to the Thompson family. He said the River Bluff game is usually their biggest gate of the season, and hopes to raise as much many as they can for the Thompsons.
People around the River Bluff community and throughout the Midlands already have stepped in to help Thompson, who has a wife and three children. A Team Thompson Swimathon raised more than $5,000 on Sunday. The event was organized by Thompson’s daughter, Natalie, a member of the River Bluff swimming team.
River Bluff football coach and athletics director David Bennett said more opportunities to help the Thompson family are in the works. He said River Bluff will be doing something similar to what Lexington is doing at the Gators’ home game against White Knoll on Jan. 19. A bake sale and BBQ will be held in the future, and T-shirts are being made with proceeds going to the Thompsons.
“Brian is blown away from all the gratitude and people. He is in great spirits through this and has a great faith,” Bennett said. “He is a great husband and father before he is a teacher and coach.”
Bennett didn’t know Thompson before he interviewed him for a job, but the initial meeting struck a chord with him
“I asked him, ‘What was the difference between success and significance as a coach? Bennett said. “Coach Thompson pointed to his state championship ring he earned at Dutch Fork and said ‘That is success. But significance is the relationship you have with the kids.’
“Coach Thompson has done a great job for us and has got a big old heart and he loves kids. So, we are going to do anything we can do during this time to help him and his family.”