Friends and family members of a late Columbus North High School graduate hope to raise $10,000 through an endowment to carry on his legacy and passion for the performing arts.

The endowment is in memory of Andrew P. Russell, who graduated in 1992 and was active in the performing arts during his time at North, said Regan Littrell, Russell’s sister. Russell died Dec. 2, 2014 from a heart attack at age 40.

The mission of the Andy Russell Endowment is to provide harmonic support to Columbus North students with annual grants to the performing arts for outstanding choral and theater performance, according to Littrell.

Russell, who played football for four years, also was involved in choir and became a member of Music Men, the school’s competition show choir during his sophomore year, a position typically held by upperclassmen, Littrell said. He was a recipient of the Thomas Orr award for his contributions to the arts, served as class officer during his senior year, she added.

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“North was really, really important to him,” Littrell said. “He was a very kind individual and he was very selfless.”

The endowment, which is overseen by the Bull Dog Alumni Association, has raised just more than $2,500. If the $10,000 goal is met, the money would help support teachers and students with performing arts needs such as transportation or purchasing backdrops or sets for drama performances.

Organizers hope the endowment can grant $500 a year in hopes the established endowment can surpass $20,000 so it can provide at least $1,000 annually. A close family friend has agreed to match up to $10,000 in donations toward the endowment, Littrell said.

Kirsten Smith, who knew Russell since elementary school and graduated with him at North, said her late friend was loved by anyone that knew him.

“Andy was completely compassionate,” Smith said. “He would help anyone anytime. He was just a wonderful person.”

Smith said she thinks that Russell would be extremely humbled and honored that an endowment was created in his name, especially because the money will be used to help students who are passionate about the performing arts just like he was.

“This is someone that made a huge impact in our community,” Smith said. “This will help students for a long time to come.”

Littrell said she believes her brother would have wanted people to have the same opportunities he was given. Her brother didn’t look to be in the spotlight even though he often was through his involvement in the performing arts, she said.

The endowment allows his legacy to live on, she said.

“I just want him to never be forgotten,” Littrell said.

How to help

To donate money toward the Andy Russell Endowment for the Performing Arts, visit the Bull Dog Alumni Association website at:

columbusnorthalumni.org/donation-opportunities/.

Checks can also be mailed to Hedy George, executive director of the Bull Dog Alumni Association at Columbus North High School, 1400 25th St., Columbus, with “Andy Russell Endowment” written in the memo line. Checks should be made out to the Bull Dog Alumni Association.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com