Integrity marked with purple
by Rory Doyle
Sep 20, 2012 | 1872 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cleveland High School football and girls basketball teams began the "Purple With a Purpose" cause Wednesday by wearing purple ribbons to honor the passing of Amanda Price, wife of former Wildcats coach Ron Price.
The Cleveland High School football and girls basketball teams began the "Purple With a Purpose" cause Wednesday by wearing purple ribbons to honor the passing of Amanda Price, wife of former Wildcats coach Ron Price.
There are those who pass whose spirit must be kept alive.

This is the message Cleveland High School counselor and Lady Wildcats head basketball coach Jenny McCullough preached to CHS athletes Wednesday.

McCullough is pushing the movement she calls "Purple With a Purpose" to honor the tragic passing of her friend and former Cleveland resident Amanda Price.

The lives of Amanda and her husband Ron, a former football coach at CHS, changed forever in December 2011 when an attacker invaded their home in New Albany, killing Amanda and wounding Ron with a bullet to the shoulder.

The New Albany Police Department said the crime was a "senseless tragedy" of a home invasion gone terribly wrong, resulting in Amanda's death.

"Purple was Amanda's favorite color and this is about paying tribute to her as an inspiration to all of us," said McCullough.

McCullough told the Price's story to the CHS athletes and encouraged them to wear purple today, along with purple ribbons around their wrists.

Today also marks the celebration of Amanda's birthday.

"If you choose to wear purple you are saying that you will live with integrity today, you will inspire others today, just as Amanda did," addressed McCullough.

The hope is that other students will discover the meaning behind the tribute and create a school of purple before Friday's CHS home game against New Albany — with Head Coach Ron Price leading the way for the Bulldogs.

Along with the purple, the Wildcats will take the unique approach of welcoming their opponents.

An invitation has been accepted by the Bulldogs to join the Wildcats for their pregame meal at First Baptist Church Friday afternoon, where both Ron and McCullough will speak to the legacy Amanda left behind.

Wildcat coaches will also take time to paint Amanda's name in purple across their home field before the game.

Just prior to kickoff both teams will celebrate her life with a balloon release and speech from Ron.

Exhibiting his fortitude, Ron said all the dedication has been heartwarming.

"It's an honor for the Wildcats to put the game aside, wear the ribbons and pay tribute to my wife and me," said Ron.

"Amanda never thought about herself — she spent every day trying to make everyone else's life better. She truly was one of a kind."

While nine months have passed since Amanda's life was taken, her impact as a genuine person lives on.

"It's amazing that even after her death she's making an impact here and in different communities in Mississippi," said Ron.

CHS Principal Steven Craddock is proud to see his school come together in a time of remembrance.

"Competition on the field is one thing, but when a tragedy occurs, we have to put our competitive nature aside and support each other," said Craddock. "This is an opportunity to teach our students compassion while celebrating a wonderful person’s life."

Purple With a Purpose will embody the compassion Amanda gave to others.

"Even if someone wears purple for just one day, they are committing to acting with more character, more integrity and will inspire others," added McCullough. "If we all did that every day, wouldn't this be a better school, a better community? Wouldn't that make it where people cared more about each other?

"It's about living your entire life by putting others first — the way Amanda did."

The history of the Prices in Cleveland, and the impact they left here, runs deep.

Amanda and Ron graduated from Delta State University and remained in Cleveland until she wanted to peruse her master's degree at Ole Miss.

The move to New Albany made that a possibility.

Ron left the Cleveland School District in 2002 after taking a teaching position at New Albany Middle School.

He was named head football coach at the high school in 2008.

"Cleveland was a special place for Ron and Amanda," said McCullough. "The first time Amanda saw Ron coach was here. The last time she saw Ron coach was here, when we beat New Albany in the playoffs.

"Purple With a Purpose is the least we can do to honor these exceptional people that have been an inspiration to so many."

Ron has found the strength to carry on and is motivated by the influence Amanda continues to make from above.

"Friday will be a celebration for an unbelievably special person," said Ron.