When the Kennett High School football team took the field for its first home game of the season, a very courageous little boy led the way.
On Halloween 2012, when he was two years old, Grayson Savery was diagnosed with a form of pediatric brain cancer, medullary fibrillary astrocytoma. Grayson’s tumor is enmeshed within his brain stem, the powerhouse of the brain, and entwined within the nerves that control major gross and sensory reactions, such as breathing and swallowing. In January 2013, Grayson began what would total 18 months of weekly chemotherapy at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Grayson’s tumor is currently stable.
“He is a larger-than-life kid,” his mother, Mrs. Jaclyn Savery, says. “Through it all, he always wanted to live.”
This year Grayson began first grade at New Garden Elementary School. In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the Kennett High School varsity football team named Grayson and his older brother Aydan honorary captains for their game against Chichester High School on Friday, September 2.
It was an exciting and emotional night. Before the game, the Savery family was given a private tour of the campus, and Grayson and Aydan received custom Kennett High School football jerseys and helmets. Both boys were all smiles as they raced around the gymnasium and put on their jerseys in the locker room.
Fully outfitted in Kennett Blue Demon gear, Grayson and Aydan waited patiently to lead the football team onto the field. The Savery brothers were greeted with vigorous applause as they rushed onto the field with the entire Kennett High School Football them behind them. As the honorary captains, Grayson and Aydan were then asked to participate in the annual coin toss to begin the game.
As the game got under way, Grayson and Aydan watched eagerly from the stands and waited for their biggest moment of the night. At half-time, they were called onto the field to run one of the best plays of the night.
As the brothers marched onto the field for the big play, their parents looked on with delight.
“It was an amazing moment,” Mrs. Savery said with a smile. The Savery family may be fighting the odds, but it is clear that the love they have for each other is a force to be reckoned with.
Grayson and Aydan lined up on the field and Chichester High School’s defensive players lined up against them. The officials gave the signal and the play began. Grayson took the handoff, swerved to the right and left, and rushed into the end zone for a brilliant touchdown that was met with roars of delight from the student section, who waited for Grayson in the end zone.
“This is amazing!” Grayson exclaimed, still holding onto his game football. Both brothers were all smiles—and wanted to continue playing with the team.
Then there was another revelation: The Chichester football team, marching band, and cheerleading team had organized a campaign to collect more than $500 in gifts for the Savery family.
“He’s such an inspiration,” said Chichester cheerleading coach Mrs. Karen Baney. Having experienced the battle against cancer with her own family members, Mrs. Baney understood the family’s challenges and decided to help out.
It was an extraordinary night. The community and the Kennett Consolidated School District came together to support a little boy who is truly larger than life.
“The Kennett Consolidated School District has always rallied around ‘our own,’ and we want Grayson and his family to know that they have our unwavering support. That is what we do,” says superintendent Dr. Barry Tomasetti. “Our prayers for Grayson’s complete recovery are with him each and every day.”
This is not the first time the Kennett Consolidated School District has united to support a member of its community. Last spring, the District was shocked to learn that a high school student, John Paul Dean, had been diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“It was very gratifying to see how our school community rallied around this young man and his family,” Dr. Tomasetti comments. “John Paul demonstrated unwavering spirit and courage during his time of recovery. His cancer is in remission and he has moved on to the next step in life, as he entered Emory Riddle University this fall.”