The West County School District and Parkland community at large has come together in recent weeks to support a local coach who is currently battling a brain tumor.
John Barnett has been a part of area athletics for decades, especially at his home school of West County, where he currently coaches.
“We moved here when he was 3, so he’s been a Bulldog for his entire life,” said John’s mother, Lila Barnett.
His sphere of influence reaches well beyond the West County School District, a fact made evident after it was recently discovered that Barnett had a brain tumor and friends all across the Parkland began coming to the aid of him and his family.
“He’s well-loved,” said West Count Middle School Teacher Pamela Clifton. “If he’s not related to somebody, he’s friends with them.”
Barnett completed his first round of treatment in Houston, Texas, on Thursday, where he and his family will remain for six weeks during the course of treatment. Barnett is the husband of Megan Barnett and the father of 6-year-old Khloe, 5-year old Eva and 19-month-old Elijah.
“Everywhere he goes, he’s made connections,” Clifton said. “There’s just so much love for him. It’s unfathomable to realize how broad his reach has been, and he’s only 31. So many people are his players, parents of his players or people he’s played with.”
West County Athletic Director John Simily, who coached Barnett when he was a student, said there could not be enough good things said of his former student.
“There’s not a better person than John,” he said. “He’s a good Christian father. He’s just a first-class guy all the way around. Even on the court.”
So far, Barnett has received support from West County’s Christmas Tournament, from Ste. Genevieve and Valle Catholic school districts, Fredericktown School District, local radio stations and numerous individuals.
On Jan. 13, Hub’s Pub owner Brandon Hubbard will be donating 10 percent of the day’s proceeds to Barnett and his family.
A fundraiser at West County High School is also being planned for Jan. 27, involving area faculty coming together to raise funds for Barnett and his family, with bonus entertainment.
West County Girls Basketball Coach Chris Brewer said a faculty basketball game is set for that evening with additional fundraising opportunities included.
“We’ll open the doors at 5 p.m. for a $5 spaghetti dinner,” he said. “We’ll have salad, bread, dessert and a drink.
“Admission for the games is donation-only, whatever you want to give. The games will start at 6 p.m. We’ll start with West County versus Kingston, then Kingston versus Potosi and then West County versus Potosi to end the night, and that’s when we’ll have a 50/50 drawing. And 100 percent will go to John and his family.”
Brewer said a silent auction is also being put together by West County’s National Honor Society for that evening as well, with tables being set up in the High School mezzanine for the baskets.
Simily said the school district has not hosted inter-district faculty basketball games since before he joined the district. Brewer said the idea seemed to be perfect for the occasion and for Barnett.
“When I think of John Barnett, I think of basketball,” Brewer said. “So that’s the first thing that popped into my head — to do something with basketball. And the kids like to see the old guys who yell at them in class and at practice on the court so they can kind of razz us.
“The kids will really enjoy it. When I do fundraisers, I like to do things that make people feel like they got their money’s worth. Giving is enough, I know, but I think they’re going to have a good time.”
In addition to proceeds the night of the event, organizers are also looking for donations in the form of gift certificates, gift cards, items services or monetary donations that can be used in the silent auction.
Any donations in the form of checks can be made payable directly to John Barnett.
Simily said other fundraisers are currently in the works, including an alumni baseball game in March and a trivia night in February.
For more information or to make donations, contact the West County School District at 573-562-7535 or Chris Brewer directly at 573-915-2502.