CENTER GROVE, Ind. — In some towns, football is more than just a game. The middle school rivalry in Center Grove brings together a town divided. This year, they needed each other more than ever.
“There's just no words… no words to express how I feel about it right now,” said Lori Lowe.
On Thursday, Lori's husband John was on his way to Lansing, Michigan for a quick work trip. However, his flight crashed shortly before landing. John was pronounced dead on the scene.
John was known at Center Grove games for bringing a railroad bell and using it loudly after every big play. His father used the bell during his games, and with his son on the seventh grade team, John would bring it out for him.
"He would be ringing that bell like you wouldn’t believe,” Lori said with a smile.
"Damn good human being, and one of the best people I know,” said Patrick Olmstead.
Olmstead has been John’s best friend since grade school. He is also Ben's godfather. The day before his flight, John sent Patrick a text reminding him about Ben's football game on Monday. John didn’t want Patrick to miss it, and Ben didn't want to miss it either.
"When I talked with him (Ben) after he learned, one of the things he said was he wanted to play," Olmstead said. "So even on last Thursday, he wanted to be here tonight with his team.”
Four days after the plane crash, Ben suited up. Playing for bragging rights and for his father.
“John would be proud of his son for going out and playing tonight as difficult as it may be," Lori said.
While John wasn’t there to ring his bell, all fans were given one of their own. Ben brought along his father’s and gave it a ring before the game and after big plays.
John would never miss a game for his son, and even now, John will still be felt and heard at every one.
"I'm extremely proud and honored to have called John my husband,” Lori said.
Ben's team, Center Grove Central, won the game 8-6.