Connersville Sends Howard's Family To Final Four

City Raises Money For Celebration Of Favorite Son

After missing his son's games in New Orleans, the father of Butler basketball star Matt Howard will be in Houston for this week's Final Four, thanks to the generosity of his neighbors.

Stan Howard said the town pitched in to pay for the trip to Houston for him and his wife, 6News' Rick Hightower reported.

"It's Connersville. That's just how people are here," Howard said. "I think it's really heartfelt, too, and that's the thing that means the most, that they really want to do this."

Howard, a postal worker and father of 10 children, said he spent about four hours doing network television interviews on Monday about Butler and his son's back-to-back trips to the Final Four.

Howard said he's humbled by donations that poured in at Brian's Bookstore and Coffee Bar.

"It's something good from Connersville. This is the most media we've had in Connersville since the jail takeover," he said. "Hope nobody thinks, 'Why didn't they send somebody else,' but I'm just thankful I know people are trying to show their appreciation."

The community had to get permission from Butler and the NCAA to initiate the fundraiser, plan a parade and paint "Final Four" on Central Avenue in front of the Fayette County Courthouse.

The parade will begin Thursday afternoon at First United Methodist Church near the Connersville Post Office, and will travel south along Central Avenue to the courthouse.

"Our community kept calling my office asking, 'What can we do to be a part of this?'" said Mayor Leonard Urban. "I kept asking Butler, and we weren't allowed to do a lot of things, but yesterday I got permission from the NCAA to do it in the manner we're doing it."

Donations were gathered in a box at Brian's, where Howard and his friends gather after work every afternoon to talk Butler basketball and other subjects.

"We just felt like we wanted to do something, that we wanted to help the family out and defray some of the costs and expenses, because they do a lot for Connersville and this is a chance for Connersville to do something for Stan," said Howard Manifold, Howard's friend and a Butler alum.

There are signs across the city supporting Matt and the team, such as, "Matt Howard U Da Man," and "Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to the Final 4 Butler goes," both of which could be seen in front of a hotel on State Road 1 south of town.

While he's excited about Butler getting back to the Final Four, Stan Howard, in his own way, made it clear he wants a title this year.

Speaking metaphorically, he said, "I like kissing my sisters, but there's nothing like kissing your wife."

The Howards, who plan to drive to Houston after the parade, said they had planned to go anyway, but the assist from their neighbors is much appreciated.

Stan Howard said he hopes what his son and the other Butler players have accomplished will be an example to other young people.

"The example Matt's set is something our young people can latch hold of and say, 'Well, I can do that, and if I can't play basketball, I can be an academic All-American. I can excel in the classroom," he said.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted earlier this week that he would arrange for Howard's parents to be in Houston, but the offer ultimately wasn't needed, and he later was told it would be a violation of NCAA rules anyway.