We Are Iraan (for The New York Times)
We Are IraanWith a population of 1,229, Iraan is what you would imagine a small town in west Texas to look like. It is the town, surrounded by oil-fields, where everyone knows everyone. There is a single stop light in the middle of the town and on a Friday night in the fall everyone heads down the street to watch the local high school football team.
On December 2, 2016 the football team defeated Munday 40-12 to advance to the Texas state semi-finals. Less than two hours later, players began receiving phone calls that the bus carrying the cheerleaders had been hit by an eighteen-wheeler that left several cheerleaders seriously injured and the booster club president dead.
The tragic events pulled the tight knit community together while the neighboring small towns across west Texas rallied around Iraan to show their support. Over 700 cheerleaders showed up to support the team as they won their semi-final game on December 12th by 21 points. New cheer equipment was donated to the cheer squad along with meals, wrist bands, blankets, charter busses and a 10-passenger plane for one of the injured cheerleaders who could not make the 7 hour bus ride to Arlington for the state championship game.
The team fought hard while the town cheered them on under the bright lights and 70-yard video board at the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium but the Braves came up short in the championship game. As the high school principal, Mr. Baum, put it, "football was huge but humanity was bigger."