The 40th anniversary of Kelly Russell’s death will be celebrated this year with Russellville High School’s baseball team and the Russellville Alumni Association hosting the first-ever “Kelly Russell Classic” on Saturday, April 26.
The Panther will host a pair of baseball games at Kelly Russell Field that day and there will also be a special ceremony in the middle school gym beginning at 1 p.m. Russellville will play Butler County at 3 p.m. following the ceremony.
“We started talking about what we could do for a ‘Kelly Russell Day’ and it snowballed into having a program on Saturday at 1 p.m. when the other baseball game is going on,” said Diane Walker, one of the event organizer.
There will be several speakers at the program - including Steve Gilliam, who was Russell’s best friend.
“He will speak a little and tell Kelly’s story,” Walker said. “Mayor Mark Stratton will be there with a proclamation and there will be a few other surprises too.”
The ultimate goal of the event is to help rebuild the Kelly Russell Scholarship Fund, which has been given to male and female graduates of Russellville High School to commemorate Russell’s life.
“He was short in stature, but his heart was huge,” Walker said. “It’s been wonderful to keep up his legacy going.”
T-shirts are available for purchase for $15 apiece and are available to be ordered by emailing Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Russell was a standout athlete at RHS, but was struck in the head during warmups at a regional tournament baseball game. Russell later died from his injury and his funeral was held on the same day of the graduation ceremony for the Russellville Class of 1974.