GOLDTHWAITE, Texas (KWTX) Two rival schools came together under the Friday night lights in honor of an area boy who passed away hours before a football game was played in his honor.
(Photo courtesy of Terry Thompson)
Luke Sutherland, 7, of Goldthwaite, lost his short battle with an aggressive form of brain cancer after he was removed from ventilators keeping him alive Friday afternoon, according to family and friends.
The small town of Goldthwaite had been rallying around Sutherland, but during Friday night’s football game between Goldthwaite and Valley Mills, both teams used the game to honor Luke with a ‘blue out’ – even though it wasn't in either team's colors, most fans were wearing blue, a color Luke picked, with many wearing t-shirts which read “I am Luke Strong.”
The Goldthwaite football players warmed up in “Luke Strong” shirts and coaches wore them throughout the game as players ran through a “Luke Strong” sign as they came onto the field.
Since the mascot for both teams is an eagle, they hung signs that read "No Eagle Fights Alone."
Luke was a first-grader at Goldthwaite Elementary School and had six siblings: Kylee and Slade Sutherland, Halee, Savanna, and Emma Head, and Sydney Hamilton.
His siblings were presented with a football helmet made for Luke, a dinosaur memory box, and a check of the profits from t-shirt sales during halftime.
The game was originally intended to be a fundraiser for Luke, however, organizers said it turned into a time to grieve and mourn the community’s loss.
On Oct. 9, exactly one month before he passed, Sutherland was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous tumor that starts in the lower back part of the brain and tends to spread to other areas around the brain and spinal cord.
He passed away surrounded by family at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth where he'd been receiving treatment.
His mother, Melissa Hamilton, is a teacher near Goldthwaite and his father is a Killeen firefighter.
She posted about her son's passing on Facebook.
"Because we were on the St Jude’s trial, I was informed that Luke’s death is not in vain. The research that will be derived from his tumor cells we sent them will help them learn more about this unheard of type and will help save lives in the future," she said.
"He always wanted to be a hero. And now he is."