Red, white and true blue

​Thomasboro Academy’s colors are red and white. But the whole school turned blue on Aug. 28 as more than 620 students donned Carolina Panthers shirts for a pep rally. New team owner David Tepper visited the school along with Panthers mascot Sir Purr to share a surprise.

“Just like our football players need equipment, you guys need equipment,” said Tepper. “We want to support you. So we brought backpacks filled with classroom supplies for all of you.”

 Tepper, who officially signed on as new Panthers team owner July 2, said helping all students get ready for school is close to his heart.

 “We struggled financially when I was a child,” said Tepper. “I used to carry my things to school in a large brown paper bag. I know what it is like to struggle and I want to help.”

 The donation is part of a larger campaign organized by Tepper’s foundation and Classroom Central. In all, the campaign will donate 12,000 backpacks to more than 17 area schools.

 After the pep rally, Tepper visited classrooms to distribute the backpacks. They were filled with crayons, notebooks, paper and other school supplies.

 Principal Jan McIver said the donation will help her students be prepared for school. “For them to equip our students with backpacks and supplies of their own really helps our students have a level playing field,” she said. “They are now fully prepared and this takes quite a burden off parents and teachers.”