Local teams rally for TDs against cancer


By Rodd Baxley - [email protected]



LUMBERTON — For the next two weeks, the Red Springs and Fairmont football teams will be scoring touchdowns in an effort to beat something other than their opponents: childhood cancer.

In support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, MaxPreps, PLEDGE IT and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have partnered to launch Touchdowns Against Cancer, a national high school football campaign aimed to unify teams across the country in the fight.

Through next Saturday, fans across the nation are encouraged to pledge a donation for each touchdown their team scores to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and research in fighting childhood cancer. Along with Fairmont and Red Springs, East Columbus is another area school involved in the fight. Former St. Pauls assistant Maurice Huey is in his first year as head coach of the Gators.

Fans can pledge online via the team page at touchdownsagainstcancer.com.

Here’s how your donation can help:

  • $2 per TD will provide a patient a Pediatric Isolation Mask to help protect those with compromised immune systems from airborne germs..
  • $5 per TD will provide thermometers to check children for fever.
  • $10 per TD will provide a medical testing doll used to help patients understand medical treatment and procedure.
  • $25 per TD will fund rehabilitation weights to help improve patients’ quality of life.
  • $100 per TD will provide one pair of child-sized crutches.

A link to a video about the campaign can be found attached to this story at robesonian.com.

Cancer is diagnosed each year in about 175,000 children ages 14 and under worldwide, according to the St Jude’s website.

When Lonnie Cox thought about getting Fairmont involved, it was the story of his head coach Mark Heil that provided the motivation to make a difference.

“When given the opportunity to help raise funds for this campaign, I immediately thought of Coach Heil’s son, Mark Jr., who died (in 2008 at the age of 19) to cancer,” said Cox, Fairmont’s offensive coordinator.

“Coach Heil always tells our kids that he wishes that they would give every ounce of energy and sweat in their bodies to make the best out of not only every play on the field, but every moment of their lives, because tomorrow is not promised.”

Participating in the campaign was also personal for Red Springs coach Ron Cook.

“It means a lot to contribute to the continuous research in cancer treatment because I’ve had family members who have died, survived, and are currently fighting different types of cancer,” Cook said.

“Plus, the fact that this particular event is for children puts it right next to home and my heart being that I’m a father and a football coach.”

As the campaign comes to a close next weekend, Cox is hopeful that all schools can make an impact beyond the gridiron.

“It means a lot to be a part of this program not only to help honor the lives of people like Coach Heil’s son, but to provide encouragement and support for those who are currently fighting cancer,” he said.

“Our testament as human beings, at the end of our lives, should not be what we accomplished, but the manner in which we tried to help others in time of need.”

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By Rodd Baxley

[email protected]

Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.

Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.

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