Local high school students huddled together for a classmate recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, raising hundreds of dollars to help his family pay for treatments.
As a graduation present to senior Brandon Bourage, Chattahoochee County High School students stormed the football field in his honor. The 9th through 12th graders created a heart to reflect the school's theme of sticking together.
Just a month ago on February 27, Brandon was diagnosed with bone cancer.
"It was shocking. The doctors said it was really rare," Brandon said.
The family found out about the cancer after a common event occurred during a football game.
"Brandon on the football field is a little terror. So, when he got hit, it was nothing out of the norm," Brandon's father Ivory Bourage said.
But this time was different and everything but the norm. Brandon's parents say he was not healing properly.
Brandon developed a limp and was in constant pain.
The family took him to Atlanta for test. He was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that attacks the bone cells making them grow weak.
"It was unbelievable. It was like someone put a knife to my heart. I thought, 'my baby' are you serious," Brandon's mother Kathy Bourage recalled.
"It's been tough. But, we try to keep a positive idea about it. We try to stay happy. I know it's stressful for parents," Brandon said.
Once a thriving wide receiver for the ChattCo Panther's and a track member, Brandon now needs crutches to get around.
"I Kept telling myself I got to stay strong, especially for my friends and family. They are looking for me to be strong," Brandon said.
His positive attitude, and friendly nature inspired his friend to take action.
"We're just trying to raise money for him," O'Nisha Smith said.
"Yea, because they are going to Atlanta [for treatment]," said Jodie Perkins.
"Right, and for hotels and all that stuff," Smith added.
The group made shirts and bracelets to sell to help raise funds.
"We got T-shirt we made that says 'Keep Calm and Kick Cancer' on the front. It says 'Team Bourage' and 'one heart beat' on the Back. The colors are black and red because those are his favorite colors. With Keep Calm we're basically saying stay focused, stay together, and be patient. We're all going to get through this together," Brittany Harris, Kayla Morton, Jodie Perkins and I, O'Nisha Smith said.
As of Thursday afternoon, the group of four raised more than $900 to help the Bourage family with mounting medical costs.
Fortunately, the family is insured as well. Brandon will go through 10 weeks of Chemotherapy, according to his parents. His mother said he will likely be in a wheelchair by the time his treatment is complete.
Brandon has high hopes for a future back on the gridiron.
"After all this is over, I plan to hit the gym hard and work out everyday. I will try my best. I plan to start slow and work my way up," Brandon said. "I also want to go to college at Troy University to major in Sports Medicine. That way if I can't be on the field, I want to be close to it."
He says the support he's gotten from his school has been amazing.
"I feel great right now. This is a great feeling. I really appreciate what everybody has done for me. I feel grateful," Brandon said.
Brandon's parents plan to buy a computer for him to use during home schooling. He will be unable to attend school as he continues Chemotherapy. His father says they will lean on their faith to see them through this trying time.