CLAYSVILLE, Pa. — October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and we often see high school teams donning pink ribbons on their helmets, pink laces on their shoes, and pink gloves.
At McGuffey High School. the Highlanders football team did something even greater to support one of their own who means more to the program than they can put into words.
This past July, McGuffey athletic trainer Alexandra Houck heard the words no one ever wants to hear: “You have breast cancer.”
“I want to keep living my life like nothing’s wrong,” Houck told Channel 11. “You get that knee-jerk reaction of cancer, like, ‘Oh my God,’ and your stomach drops and you’re terrified.”
The McGuffey athletics community immediately jumped into action, creating “Alex Strong” bracelets and donating the proceeds, putting pink tape on their helmets, and this past week, the football team surprised their trainer by shaving their heads in solidarity.
“We actually did not tell her that we were going to do it. So it was all a big surprise at the end of the day. And that’s when we walked in and she was in total shock,” senior quarterback Connor Crowe said.
The bond the Highlanders share with their trainer – across all sports – is indescribable.
“It’s really just, it’s just so beautiful. Like it’s ... it’s hard for me to not like get upset about it and like happy tears over it. Because, like, they’re not my kids. They’re not my children, but they are my children. They’re the closest thing I’m ever gonna have to kids,” Houck said.
“Means everything. I mean, she’s our biggest supporter. She’s always there for us,” senior offensive and defensive lineman Evan Brookman said.
“It means, like wonders, how she can be here, and no, we don’t know how she’s feeling but we know that she’s definitely going through it,” Crowe said. “She still tries her best to be here, tells us that she’s going to be here, and when she misses she says she’s deeply sorry about not being here.”
It isn’t just the football team at McGuffey that’s showing their support.
The players told Channel 11 this spans across all the athletic teams and there are also kids in the school who heard what was happening and shaved their heads as well, wanting to show their support.
“They’re my legs when I’m tired. They’re my arms when I can’t pick something up and their spirit carries me along when I’m tired and weary,” Houck said. “You can’t just not want to get up and do it when 100 of them are out there working their butt off like it’s so easy then to just think oh, I can do that. That’s easy. I can fight cancer. I can go to chemo and sit there for three hours and do nothing like no problem.”
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