News Democrat

Emotions run high as Eastern seniors present disabled students with signed basketballs on Senior Night

Eastern seniors Blake Rigdon and Jacob Diener (back) present basketballs signed by Eastern basketball players and coaches to disabled students Cory Burchell and Peyton Murphy during Senior Night on Feb. 7.

By Wade Linville –

Tuesday marked Senior Night at Eastern High School, an evening that would warm the hearts of all Warrior fans who came out to show their support.
During the Senior Night ceremony, seniors Blake Rigdon and Jacob Diener of the Eastern varsity basketball team presented two fellow students who suffer from disabilities, Peyton Murphy and Cory Burchell, with basketballs signed by the Eastern players and coaches.
“I hope they really know how much this meant to Kelly Murphy (Peyton’s mother), Peyton and I as well as Cory and his family,” Peyton’s father, Nathan Murphy, posted on social media following the Senior Night ceremony.
Peyton is a senior at Eastern High School who has been disabled since he was born. Both Burchell and Murphy hold a deep love for the game of basketball.
The signed basketballs were a way to give thanks to Murphy and Burchell for their strong support of the Eastern High School basketball teams.
Peyton Murphy was so proud of his basketball signed by the players and coaches that he would take the ball to bed with him that night.
Rigdon, also a star runner on the Eastern cross country and track teams, took part in a 5K benefit race called “Paces for Peyton” during the summer which raised approximately $15,000 toward the purchase of a handicapped accessible van for Murphy. Rigdon won the 5K race.
The Eastern varsity boys would suffer a 56-38 loss to the skilled Peebles Indians on Senior Night, but the loss is not what will remain in the memories of Warrior fans for the long term. The special moment that took place at mid-court on Senior Night will provide Murphy and Burchell with memories they will carry with them for the rest of their lives, and their basketballs bearing the names of their favorite high school players and coaches will be there to remind them that the love they have given to the Eastern Warriors is shared.