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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • Wildcats gear up for good cause

  • September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. So when Neosho head football coach Jared Schoonover found out his team could help brighten a young man’s day while helping inform the public about children with cancer, he and the remainder of the NHS athletic staff didn’t hesitate to climb aboard.
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  • September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. So when Neosho head football coach Jared Schoonover found out his team could help brighten a young man’s day while helping inform the public about children with cancer, he and the remainder of the NHS athletic staff didn’t hesitate to climb aboard.
    That’s why at tonight’s football game at Bob Anderson Stadium fans should note a special captain amongst the players at midfield during the coin toss — Gunner Gonzalez. Gonzalez, a freshman at NHS, has been battling Acute Lymphoblastic Lukemia (ALL) and, while his cancer is currently in remission, continues to receive treatment to fight the illness.
    For Schoonover, it’s a small gesture to support a giant cause.
    “It’s a special thing for me, personally,” Schoonover said. “I have two daughters, Mady (4) and Maci (3), and I come home from football practice every night and kiss them and thank God that they’re healthy. My brother had two bone marrow transplants growing up, so I know how tough it can be.
    “If we have an opportunity to show a young man how special he is at a football game, and for one night make him feel healthy and happy, we’re going to do it. It’s a great thing. We’re very excited to work with Gunner.”
    For Cathy Cooley, co-founder of the Christopher Foundation, the night has an even deeper meaning. She lost her son, Christopher, for whom the foundation is named, after a 5 1/2 year battle with cancer in 2001. Cooley has made it her life’s work to help children and families fighting cancer. She says the support for Friday’s event has grown larger than she imagined.
    Players for both Neosho and Bolivar will don gold ribbon decals on their helmets. Coaches will wear gold ribbon pins. The gold ribbon emblem is designated to recognize childhood cancer.
    “The biggest thing to me is how awesome the coaches and athletic department have been,” Cooley said. “And it’s not just them, even the groundskeepers painting gold ribbons on the field. Everyone. It’s an amazing effort by everyone to pull this off.”
    Cooley credits Mishelle Hill, board member of the foundation, for coming up with the idea and taking it to NHS officials.
    “Mishelle Hill came up with the idea and approached the school and worked it out with them,” Cooley said. “We approached the football team about doing something and they said, ‘Sure.’ We’re pretty amazed at what they’re doing with it. We’re thrilled.”
    Cooley says the foundation will also be collecting DVDs to be donated to the bone marrow transplant unit at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Kids can’t leave the room until their count is normal, so this gives them something to do and something to enjoy during their stay,” Cooley said.
    Those wishing to donate DVDs can do so by dropping them off at any Southwest Missouri Bank location, Joyful Journeys, New Mac Electric or Vintage Stock. Donations can also be mailed to the foundation at P.O. Box 717, Neosho.
    For other questions or information, contact Cathy Cooley at 389-4415.

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