A decade after its debut, a film based on the 1970 plane crash that claimed the lives of the members of Marshall University's football team, its staff and supporters, and the plane's flight crew has, in its own way, become another unifying chapter in the university's 179-year history.

HUNTINGTON - A decade after Hollywood came to Huntington to adapt one of the biggest events in Marshall University's history for a movie, university officials kicked off an anniversary celebration with a fundraiser showing of the film Friday night at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.

HUNTINGTON -- Daniel and Madge Slay finally got to pay their respects to people they didn't know. The two did so 38 years after the fact. To top it off, it took a movie to inspire the two to drive in from Missouri for the special occasion.

Photo Galleries

MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia University played a key role in helping Marshall University rebuild its football program after a plane crash took the lives of 75 football players, coaches and community members in 1970, a report on the West Virginia University Library's site, www.libraries.wvu.ed…

Marshall University's rise from the ashes of a 1970 plane crash that killed most of its football team, half the coaching staff and several prominent members of the Huntington community had never caught the attention of Hollywood.

HUNTINGTON -- It was a solemn day in 1971, sometime before Marshall University's football team traveled to Morehead State to start a new chapter in the school's football history.

What could he do? The questioned gnawed at Jack Lengyel's soul. A news crawl at the bottom of his television screen reported a plane crash involving the Marshall University football team and Lengyel felt a powerful pull to do something.

HOLLYWOOD -- Reggie Oliver was in the mix of stars for the Hollywood premiere of  "We Are Marshall."

HUNTINGTON -- The light bulbs had been replaced. Everything had been polished and cleaned, and it looked like it may have been in the 1930s. An organist in the orchestra pit was playing.

HUNTINGTON -- Tim Collins' eyes said it all. Collins, a Young Thundering Herd player in 1971, still had red eyes that glistened after seeing a special showing of "We Are Marshall" on Tuesday afternoon for the Young Thundering Herd and family members at Marquee Cinemas.

HUNTINGTON -- Mark Patton thought he said farewell to college basketball March 8 when Marshall lost to Tulane in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament. Or so he thought.

HUNTINGTON -- Actor Matthew McConaughey approaches a 6-foot-9 basketball center, sizes him up and asks the giant if would like to play football for Marshall. At a distance, Jack Lengyel, the man McConaughey is playing in the movie "We Are Marshall," nods his head to show his approval.

Marshall Photos