ONLY ON 3: Chattanooga Olive Garden pays for nearly $800 meal of KY school athletes
A group of 55 Marshall County, Kentucky students and coaches got a warm welcome in Chattanooga that’s gaining a lot of attention on social media.
A group of 55 Marshall County, Kentucky, students and coaches got a warm welcome in Chattanooga that’s gaining a lot of attention on social media.
The Marshall County Track and Field team was in Chattanooga for a meet and stopped at the Hamilton Place Olive Garden for dinner Friday night. The manager decided the nearly $800 meal was on the house.
"We're just really grateful that there's people still out there that still care and that there's good-hearted people that can do nice things," Marshall County High School senior Audrey Grizzard said.
The students are thankful for good people because they've experienced some of the worst.
"It's kind of different now when you say 'Oh, I’m from Marshall County,'" Grizzard explained.
It’s different because their small town gained national attention in January when a student opened fire at the high school. The shooting killed 2 people and left dozens of others injured. Two of the people injured are on the track and field team.
But that is not what the Marshall County track team is focusing on. They are focused on moving forward.
“There's still good people in the world,” Coach Corey Westerfield said. “You don't let one bad act; one bad person ruin the person you're meant to be."
The team saw some of the best people when they visited Chattanooga like the manager at the Olive Garden who decided their food was on the house.
The manager, Bill Funderburk, said when he learned what school the team was from, he knew he wanted to help in some way.
“It just felt like something that had to be done. I just wanted to show them there are good people out there and that we care about them,” Funderburk said.
He called the corporate office, and they agreed.
"He said 'We're going to show them some Chattanooga hospitality!' and I mean they sure did!" Westerfield exclaimed.
Students were quick to jump on social media and thank Olive Garden, a tweet that is quickly going viral.
Incredible gesture: An @olivegarden in Chattanooga, Tennessee, comped an $800 bill tonight for the Marshall County High School track team after hearing about what the student-athletes and coaches went through, following the shooting in January.— Chris Jung (@iamchrisjung) April 14, 2018
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"Little deeds can do great things,” Gizzard said with a smile. “We're all so thankful. I mean happiness, it just brings happiness for all of us."
These are the moments the team is focused on.
“The acts of generosity that have been shown to us since January are amazing," Westerfield said.
They said Chattanooga will now be a place they will never forget.
"We won't forget this for our lives,” Grizzard said. “Say we come back for a reunion, we'll remember it and we'll be able to bond over that."