For one night, cancer was fun.
There were rivals hugging, tears turning to laughter, face painting, chants of “Carter, Carter, Carter” and a packed gym cheering wildly for two teams that combined had lost 11 straight games.
Few things in life are a catalyst for a community to unite like cancer.
We hate it but love to rally around it and that’s what made Friday’s rivalry basketball game between Fort Collins HS (Colo.) and Rocky Mountain HS (Fort Collins, Colo.) so much fun.
Unfortunately for Rocky Mountain basketball player Carter Edgerley, he was the catalyst. He’s the gracious but tenacious kid who after getting cut twice had his senior year on varsity cut short by something called osteosarcoma.
But even Carter, barely 24 hours removed from yet another intensive chemotherapy session to treat his rare bone cancer, got to forget about the golf-ball size tumor on his fibula, if only for a night.
He didn’t know if he would be able to sit on the bench for the entire game. But his perseverance in pursuing basketball is evidence this kid is no quitter, so making it through Friday’s game (a 54-40 Rocky Mountain win) was just more Carter being Carter.
“This support is so important to me because being there (Denver) really sucks especially because I just had a really bad treatment and I don’t feel great but I really want to stay for the whole game,” he said.
He was greeted with long hugs from family and friends, students rubbing their hands on his bald head and well-wishers who filled the Rocky Mountain High School commons to support the Edgerley family by eating donated Qdoba entrees and baked goods, buying T-shirts and bidding on silent auction items.
Lindsay Radcliff-Coombes said after one phone call, Friday night’s event snowballed. Businesses like Qdoba, The Group Inc. and the other 10 community business sponsors get hit up a lot to donate. But Radcliff-Coombes said The Group donated $1,800 right away, Qdoba offered all the food, which sold out by halftime of the girls game that preceded the boys game, for free and in total the businesses donated $3,000.
Tracy Winey, Carter’s aunt, said the support was humbling but not shocking because Fort Collins is a giving community and the Edgerley’s have been great supporters of many others.
“A group of young boys came into the commons and asked me what was going on,” she said. “I told them they could get Qdoba and baked goods. They just opened their wallets and gave everything they had and didn’t want to buy a thing. They just wanted to help Carter.”
Jenny Edgerley, Carter’s aunt, said she’s “living on borrowed time” while battling multiple myeloma, and knows firsthand how much Friday night meant to Carter and the family.
“I know you can’t fight this alone,” she said while sitting on the edge of the commons. “People can offer and give you stuff, but what really matters is when people actually show up to support you. If you haven’t had chemo and haven’t had someone tell you, you have cancer, you don’t really know how much this support helps.”
Both teams wore Carter Strong No. 50 warm-up shirts and family members donned Team Edge shirts, a reference to the website set up to allow people to follow Carter’s journey and donate if they wish.
Fort Collins boys basketball coach Jeff Schmidt said when approached about making this rivalry game all about Carter, he was all in.
“We’re rivals, but tonight we are all playing for something much bigger, way bigger than the game of basketball,” he said before the game. “It’s about a community coming together and uniting as one for Carter.”