In online forums and Facebook posts, people are rallying to send former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno birthday cards for his 85th birthday.
The message being sent around the Internet encourages anyone to wish Paterno a happy birthday, given the events surrounding the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case.
Paterno’s birthday is on Dec. 21, and the goal is to send more than 10,000 birthday cards to his State College home.
There is no official webpage or Facebook event dedicated to the project, which has been passed on mostly by word of mouth and online.
The Baltimore Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association posted the message on their website.
Instead of just 10,000 cards, though, they are hoping to send him 109,000 birthday cards — enough to fill Beaver Stadium.
Penn State spokeswoman Jill Shockey said the university was not aware of the effort, but wishes him well on hisbirthday.
“We think it is a wonderful idea to share well wishes with someone who has done so much for the university over the years,” Shockey said.
And students at Penn State are eager to join in the efforts to honor Paterno and all that he has done for the university.
Ryan Naylor said he would definitely send a card if he got Paterno’s address.
“I think it is a great idea,” Naylor (freshman-political science) said. “It is the least we can do after everything that has happened on campus to support him.”
Student Nan Zhang also thought that sending cards would be a nice gesture for both students and alumni.
“It is great to see that people are supporting this because even though [Paterno] is not here anymore, he still means so much to the university,” Zhang (sophomore-telecommunications) said.
Joe Paterno was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1926. He was involved with the Penn State football program for over 60 years, 45 of which were spent as head coach.
On Nov. 9, the Board of Trustees announced their decision to remove him from his position in the wake of sexual abuse charges filed against Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach. Members of the Penn State Board of Trustees Executive Committee reaffirmed this decision on Dec. 2.
Off the field, Paterno has also donated money to the university for academic purposes, including the Paterno Library.
Recently, he and his wife Sue have donated money toward building the Suzanne Pohland Paterno Catholic Student Faith Center, named after his wife.
Alumna Emily Cummins said sending the birthday cards in honor of his legacy and contributions to the university is what makes the gesture so meaningful, even if aiming for over 10,000 is a little “over the top.”
“It is nice to see people showing support for a legacy that did so many things for the university,” Cummins said.
“Unfortunately, with everything that went on, that legacy took a turn for the worst, but he still is considered one of the great legacies [at Penn State].”