When the El Paso Eastwood High School football team comes to the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco Thursday night, it won't be an ordinary away game.
"If they can, just for a couple of days, forget about the tragedies from back home and just really have some joy and some sun in their lives and a unique experience and know that people from far away care about what they're going through," Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney said.
The matchup against Plano Senior High School comes after Plano ISD initially canceled the game after the mass shooting in El Paso on Aug. 3. The El Paso gunman was a Plano graduate. The district cited security concerns, but the decision was met with swift public backlash.
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Plano ISD later reinstated the game after Frisco ISD and The Star in Frisco stepped in to offer a new venue.
Since then, Cheney said businesses have stepped in to offer meals and experiences to make the Eastwood game special for the El Paso students.
"We want to treat darkness with light," Cheney said. "When our neighbors have tragedies in their community, we want to do whatever we can, do our part to show that they are loved."
So far, 22 businesses have offered to pitch in. Main Event in Frisco wants to throw an after party for the students and Altair Global, a Plano company moving to Frisco later this month, offered to cover the cost of hotel rooms for the Eastwood band and spirit squad -- so those students could stay for the after party.
"We wanted to show our hearts and welcome them like we know we can in Frisco," Altair Global CEO Chad Sterling said. "It's showing everybody that comes to the game that they're welcome here, they're wanted here, they're appreciated here."
It's unclear what, specifically, Eastwood could accept per Texas UIL rules. Texas UIL told NBC 5 it's an unusual situation and the UIL would be available to work with the schools to ensure they're in compliance.
"If there was a way we could support, whether it's financial contributions or meals or hotels, that's what we wanted to do," Sterling said. "We didn't know how it would work, or if it would work, but we certainly hope it does work."
Plano and Eastwood will play at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 5 at The Star in Frisco.