The Snow Canyon community is no stranger to rallying around a cause.
They rallied around Britton Shipp, the Santa Clara teenager whose miraculous recovery from an ATV accident has inspired many.
They’ve shown support for Kennadi Gates, the young girl diagnosed with leukemia, with some of the high school’s sports teams and even the little league softball team that went to the Little League World Series in August wearing orange as part of their uniforms.
On Thursday, as Snow Canyon took on Hurricane in volleyball, the Warriors showed support for another.
It was for Mackayla Marshall, the 13-year old girl daughter of Content Marshall, the Hurricane High volleyball coach and a severe specialist in the special education department at the high school.
Mackayla was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in August. It’s a form of bone cancer that normally occurs in the long bones of children, such as those in the arms and legs. Mackayla had a routine eye exam to figure out why she could hardly see out of her left eye. A subsequent MRI revealed there was a mass behind her left eye socket.
Since the diagnosis, the community support has been overwhelming.
“This is the coolest thing, to see the community, my community has just been such a huge support. They’ve kept us together,” Content said.
The news initially took a toll on Hurricane’s players.
“We were all really shocked when Content told us in person, and we all just sat down as a team, all of us were crying. It was rough,” Tigers’ senior Sierra Davis said.
“There’s always someone there for us, there’s always people that are willing to donate money or just be there in support. It’s a good community,” Davis added.
The Tigers swapped their normal volleyball uniforms Thursday for black shirts that read “Battle for Kayla.” The Warriors wore yellow shirts with a “Pray for Kay” logo on them and wore yellow laces on their shoes. Earlier this week on Tuesday, the Desert Hills team showed support as well by donning T-shirts during their game in Hurricane.
“One of the things that I’ve been telling people is, we remember when “Believe for Britton” was going on, the whole region jumped up and stepped up to bat on that, and so we’re totally willing to help out,” Warriors volleyball coach Ryan Rarick said.
The Snow Canyon players have never met Mackayla, but they were more than willing to express their support with the T-shirts and on social media.
“We know how difficult it is when someone in the region is struggling, so we wanted to help as much as we could,” said Warriors senior Ina Fakahua.
SCHS volleyball’s official Twitter account posted a tweet on Thursday encouraging students to come to the game and support Mackayla. The message was well-received, as many students attended and most were decked out in yellow, the official color for osteosarcoma awareness.
That was a fact not lost on Content.
“I couldn’t be more grateful at this time for the people that are complete strangers that are opening their hearts and donating and helping us with everything. This is just really amazing,” Content said.
Mackayla’s currently in the second round of chemotherapy at this point, Content said.
Mackayla wasn’t at Thursday’s game as her immune system wasn’t strong enough for her to be outside the house without risking further illness.
Once the chemo is finished, the hope is that Mackayla will have surgery to remove to the mass. In the long-term, Mackayla, an eighth grader, plans on playing volleyball for the Tigers next year. Yellow is the official color for osteosarcoma awareness, but it also happens to be Mackayla’s favorite color, Content said.
Between the second and third set during Thursday’s game, there was what was called a “Miracle Minute,” where the SCHS cheerleaders went into the stands and collected as much spare change from the fans as they could.
All proceeds from that, as well as t-shirt sales at the game, went to the Marshall family to help defray upcoming expenses, which include regular trips to Salt Lake City and chemo treatments.
“Sometimes when you see all the bad out there, to see so much good, it just warms my heart,” Content said while fighting back tears.
It’s a long road ahead for Mackayla. For the time being, the chant from the Hurricane huddle is, “Play for Kay!”
A fund to support Mackayla has been established at Mountain America Credit Union locations across Utah. Donors do not need to be Mountain America members to contribute to the fund. A donor simply needs to specify the donation is for Mackayla.
Contact reporter Patrick Carr on Twitter @patrickcarr_ and on Facebook at Facebook.com/patrickjosephcarr1/ or call him at (435) 231-3834.