From Newfane to the Tokyo Olympics, a small town rallies behind Team USA’s athlete, Newfane High School alum

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(WIVB) – Brian Irr, Newfane High School alum, represents Team USA at the Tokyo Summer Olympics for karate – and the Newfane Alumni Association shows their “Panther Pride” in support.

This summer’s Summer Olympics will be the first to include karate. Irr is the first Team USA athlete to qualify in the sport’s kumite discipline.

To support him, the Newfane Alumni Association is asking residents of Newfane – and everywhere – to take photos of their lawn signs, flags, banners, and other decor and post them on the Newfane Alumni Association’s Facebook page using the hashtag #NAABrianInTokyo .

The goal is to hit 6,464 – the number of miles from Newfane to Tokyo.

“We want Brian to know that we are thinking of him even though he no longer lives here, many of his teachers are still teaching, many of his friends are still living in the community and we are thinking of him.” said Jill Keys, president of the Newfane Alumni Association.

Lara MacFarlane, 2nd Vice President of the Newfane Alumni Association, graduated from Irr in 2006.

“He’s worked so hard – he’s been training and doing karate since we were kids,” said MacFarlane. “He really lived and breathed his goals and achieved them, and we want our students to see that and know that they can too.”

The idea of ​​creating the Newfane Alumni Association started last fall, MacFarlane added.

“Some of the kids were kind of depressed from COVID and didn’t have the opportunities other classes had in a typical year,” she said. “You were probably thinking, ‘I’m only from a small town and I can’t go as far as I think’ and that couldn’t be more wrong.”

So they reached out to Newfane’s alumni pool and found that there are a lot of interesting things doing in different ways and in different professions, MacFarlane said.

“Brian could no longer be proof that you can come from a tiny town and really make it and prove yourself on a world stage,” said MacFarlane. “That’s exactly what he’s doing, and we couldn’t be more proud.”

Everyone is welcome to take part in the challenge to support Irr on his way to Tokyo – just use the hashtag.

Kaley Lynch is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more about their work here.

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