‘Last Tunnel Walk’ painting honors Husker heroes Foltz and Berringer, raises money for grief support group​

They will forever be remembered by Husker fans for their tenacity on the field, and for leaving this world too early.

Now an Omaha artist has created a painting honoring the memories of former Huskers Brook Berringer and Sam Foltz. The piece called “Last Tunnel Walk” has helped raise $9,000 for a grief support group in Nebraska.

The painting shows the two young men in their football uniforms walking into a bright light at the end of Nebraska’s Tunnel Walk.

It depicts former quarterback Berringer, who died in a plane crash in 1996, with his hand on Foltz’s shoulder. Foltz, a former punter, died in a car crash in 2016.

Artist Ashley Spitsnogle said she wanted to portray how the two players were united by the Huskers. She also wanted to show how Berringer, who would be in his 40s today, was the type of person who would offer solace to another and serve as a mentor to a younger player.

“It shows him guiding Sam, comforting him,’’ she said.

Spitsnogle is known for doing live paintings during fundraising events, with her pieces typically auctioned off at the gatherings.

The idea for her new painting developed after Heartfelt Incorporated, a nondenominational grief support group for parents, invited Spitsnogle to create a painting during its annual fundraising event in Seward, Nebraska.

Sharon Dickinson, president of Heartfelt, said Foltz’s parents were involved in the idea. Berringer’s family also gave their blessing, the university said.

The original painting was auctioned during Heartfelt’s fundraising event last month, with $7,000 going to the organization. It took Spitsnogle four hours to create the acrylic painting during the event.

Dickinson said the painting of the two players delivers a powerful message about remembrance and hope.

“They stand for all that’s good in the Huskers,’’ she said. “These two young men continue to touch people even though they are gone.”

Because Spitsnogle sells other prints featuring Husker athletics, she is licensed through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and pays royalties to the school on Husker prints she sells.

But the university made an exception with the new painting, said Lonna Henrichs, UNL’s director of licensing and branding.

Instead, Spitsnogle is donating 15 percent from the sale of each print to Heartfelt. Prints can be purchased for $85 to $950, depending on size and whether the backing is canvass or paper. For information on purchasing, visit ashleyspitsnogle.com.

So far she has donated about $2,000. The organization is using the money — and proceeds from its February fundraiser — for upkeep of the Heartfelt Children’s Memorial on the campus of Concordia University in Seward.

Spitsnogle has also donated two prints of the Berringer and Foltz painting to the university that will be displayed in the North Stadium, and one likely will be in the lobby where fans can see it.

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