HANNIBAL - Casey Tisher's passion for everything River High School burns bright.
He's a Pilot at heart. He bleeds scarlet and gray.
A 2004 graduate of the school, Tisher and his family have seen almost every up and down in the Switzerland of Ohio School District in recent years.
Times have been tough recently from a financial standpoint. Yes, infrastructure improvements have been made. But at the same time, voters in the district have said no to a number of levies, leaving the school system strapped for cash.
That's put the hurt on, most importantly, educational interests. Sports have taken a major hit, too, with students having to foot the bill for fees, transportation, etc.
''I was never able to play sports,'' said Tisher, currently serving as a substitute math teacher in the district. ''So, I was always anti kids having to pay (to participate).''
Tisher grew up around most of River's sports programs. His dad, Tim, coached football, wrestling and softball. His uncle, Tom, coached various sports and was the schools longtime athletic director.
After Tisher returned to his hometown after attending The Ohio State University and graduating from Wheeling Jesuit, he started helping with the softball program.
His main duties consist of keeping the scorebook and tracking stats.
He's developed a close relationship with the players involved in the softball program and when he saw how the budget constraints were affecting them he knew he had to do something.
''I just got this idea one day that I was going to write letters,'' Tisher said.
They went to local businesses in and around River High School, as well as oil and gas companies which had set up shop in the Ohio Valley during the past couple of years.
''I was just asking for sponsorships or donations. I was asking for whatever they could give us. It will be a year next month.''
And what a year it's been.
''I really didn't have any expectations (when I started),'' Tisher said. ''I was just hoping to be able to pay for sports fees. Once I knew we'd be able to do that, I just kept going.
''We've had a lot more success than I've ever imagined.''
The whole experience has been pretty overwhelming for Tisher, a humble guy who didn't seek any attention or gratitude for doing it. He simply wanted to help youngsters better themselves.
''People are telling me how big of a deal it is,'' he said. ''Once you go to the mailbox a couple of days in a row and there's a donation it's kind of fun.
''I've always thought about winning the lottery and being able to do something like this.''
The donations, which have come from eight states, have resulted in more than just the payment of sports fees for the 17 members of this year's team.
''We've been able to buy them new uniforms, some bats ... we've pretty much got all new equipment,'' Tisher said. ''They're pretty excited. Excited when we open up a box and see that stuff. They're having fun with it.''
A team Facebook page was created keeps fans and members of the public updated on, not only the donations, but what's being done with them.
''We'll probably have enough to pay for sports fees for two seasons after this,'' Tisher said.
As far as transportation, Tisher said the team has elected to drive to regular-season games, as most are within minimal driving distance. For the postseason and the OVAC tournament, should the team qualify, funds could be used to get a bus.
''I wanted to do it and I like doing it,'' he said. ''We have really good people on our team. I'll keep doing it until I can't get anything anymore.''
If you know of someone involved with sports at any level in the Ohio Valley whom I could feature as an Ohio Valley Unsung Hero, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org