HARRIS COUNTY, Texas -- Friday at halftime of their homecoming game, Klein Oak High School students gave one of their most notable alums, injured Houston firefighter Capt. Bill Dowling, the biggest donation they’ve ever mustered before.
Dowling, critically injured during the fire fight at the Southwest Inn five months ago where four of his colleagues were killed, had both legs amputated and continues to suffer from brain damage after several weeks in a medically induced coma.
Dowling and his wife Jacki are both graduates of Klein Oak High School in Spring. Every year the KO Student Council identifies a charity they would like to support. They usually raise between $6,000 to $10,000 each year.
But the fundraiser for “Iron Bill” broke all records.
The exact amount was a closely guarded secret and was not revealed until the check presentation to the Dowling family at halftime. But the students began selling Iron Bill “mum” t-shirts – shirts with a traditional Texas mum printed on the front and the name of $100+ donors on the back. Student leaders asked that students consider donating $10 for each shirt instead of spending money on the elaborate and expensive homecoming mums that are a Texas tradition.
They have reportedly sold nearly 2,000 t-shirts.
“Overwhelming,” said student council president Emily Frost of the response. “We do have an idea what the final number is and it’s incredible.”
The students presented Dowling's family with a check for $80,000.
“The response and the love people have shown, the amount of money people have donated, it’s just been overwhelming,” Frost said. “It’s incredible.”