Westmoreland players, teams show support for Norwin’s Ty Bilinsky

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Saturday, February 13, 2021 | 5:45 PM


A lot of local basketball players are wearing the No. 5 these days.

Navy blue T-shirts with #TyStrong on the front and a 5 on the back are showing up in gyms across Westmoreland County and beyond as teams show their support for Norwin senior Ty Bilinsky, a basketball player who had a stroke in December and has been diagnosed with a blood disorder that, although manageable, has sidelined him for the rest of the season.

“The support has been amazing,” said Norwin sophomore basketball player Adam Bilinsky, Ty’s brother. “When that GoFundMe page went up, it went from $1,000 to over $9,000 in a day. We just drove a box of shirts up to Latrobe so they could wear them. The shirts are like masks. Everyone is wearing one. People we don’t even know.”

The GoFundMe page, started by Norwin senior guard Josh Williams, has raised more than $19,000.

The $10 shirts, which sold out and had to be reordered to keep up with demand, have raked in more than $9,000.

“We all love Ty,” Williams said.

Fifteen teams, including Penn-Trafford, Greensburg Salem, Greensburg Central Catholic, Connellsville, Elizabeth Forward and Central Catholic basketball, as well as the Greensburg Central Catholic softball team, purchased shirts.

“It’s become a movement,” Adam Bilinsky said.

Penn-Trafford wore the shirts Friday night when the Warriors played at Norwin. The Warriors girls team did the same Thursday as the rival teams played.

“It’s not about basketball right now,” Penn-Trafford boys coach Doug Kelly said. “It’s about supporting Ty. I can’t imagine what he and his family are going through.”

The girls teams formed a circle and said a prayer for anyone suffering through illness or hardships — a call for peace and solidarity. Ty Bilinsky was in the stands, and the teams invited him into the circle. He joined hands with players during the solemn moment.

“For two crosstown rivals to come together like that, it’s awesome,” Bilinsky said. “It means a lot.”

Bilinsky, never one for attention, has been taking the outpouring of support in stride.

“He feels weird,” Adam Bilinsky said. “That’s how Ty is. It’s awkward for all of us, but we’re so thankful for what everyone is doing. It’s just awesome to see.”

Ty Bilinsky went in for surgery Friday afternoon to repair a PFO (patent foramen ovale), a small hole in his heart. But doctors discovered there was no hole and are unsure what caused his stroke two days after Christmas.

Bilinsky will have a bone marrrow biospy as the family looks for more answers and solutions to the blood issue.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ty,” Penn-Trafford senior guard Josh Kapcin said. “We all wish him the best.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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