Gilbert football team honors critically ill playerPosted: Updated:
By Andrew Michalscheck
GILBERT, Ariz. -- Gilbert High School football players and parents were shocked when they were told they would not be allowed to wear a critically ill teammate’s number on their helmets.
Junior varsity quarter back Cody Middleton was diagnosed with mononucleosis about two weeks ago.
According to his mother, Shelli, his condition got so bad she had to take him to the hospital, where it was discovered the 15-year-old had contracted viral encephalitis, and he slipped into a coma.
Cody’s strength and conditioning coach Jared Baker has been visiting him in the hospital since day one.
“He started losing his fine motor skills and his health kind of started…it declined pretty drastically,” he said.
Sandra Lescoe’s son, who plays on the varsity team, came home with an idea to honor Cody.
“We’re gonna be making a tribute to him and put his number on the varsity helmets, the JV helmets, and the freshman helmets,” said Lescoe.
When several players approached the school about wearing Cody's number 12 on their helmets for their last home game Friday, they were told no.
“I’m not sure why the decision was made not to do that, but we felt its senior night, the kids are really concerned about him,” said Lescoe.
”It has been a tradition that a player’s number should only be worn on the team’s helmets when the football player dies," said Gilbert Public Schools district spokesperson Dianne Bowers in a statement to 3TV.
Bowers suggested the team where Cody’s number on wristbands instead.
As an alternative, friends and teammates made t-shirts with the phrase, “Stay calm and pray for Cody.”
“The saying on his shirt is actually a logo he has in his room,” said Baker.
The shirts are green and yellow in honor of Cody’s favorite NFL team, the Green Bay Packers.
Thursday night, someone snuck onto the football field at Gilbert High School and painted a large number 12 on the field.