Rosemount junior Cap George prior to Friday's game against Lakeville North
The smile stretched ear-to-ear on Cap George’s face Friday as the Rosemount junior accompanied the rest of the Irish football team back out on to the field after halftime.
This was where he belonged, although not quite in the manner he wished.
On June 24, George, a junior football and basketball player, was diagnosed with brain cancer. The last 80 days have been a constant stream of surgeries – he’s had two – visits to medical clinics and consults with specialists. He recently finished up a six-week series of radiation treatments at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
“Radiation and all of the drugs he’s on and the surgeries have affected his mobility, his memory. He’s just trying to battle back from adversity,” said his aunt, Julie George, who administers a web journal dedicated to Cap’s journey. “But all along he’s had a smile on his face and a positive attitude.”
George was preparing to play running back and linebacker for the Irish. The cancer has ended that dream. He walks with a profound limp and has a visible scar on the left side of his head from the surgeries.
The team hasn’t forgotten about him. While a golf cart was available to usher him around, he rarely used it Friday night. He was out on the field with the team before the game, led them in their traditional “Power of One” pregame ceremony and helped out with pregame warmup drills.
And at halftime, there he was, walking with his teammates, striding as purposefully as his body would allow, feeling fully a part of the team.
Evidence of community support was everywhere. Placards reading “Capstrong” dotted the field. Many fans wore bright neon-green t-shirts, sold during the summer as a fundraiser for Cap, that sported the words “In this town, no one fights alone.”
The last few months have been trying ones at Rosemount.
Three weeks after Cap was diagnosed, junior hockey player Joel Carlson broke two vertebrae and suffered a spinal cord injury in a pool accident. It left him paralyzed over much of his body, with some feeling in his arms and limited feeling in his legs.
The plight of the two students has rallied the Rosemount community, which has responded with significant showings of support for both. Both have had well-attended fundraisers. So far, a Go Fund Me page for Carlson has raised more than $53,000, with a goal of $75,000. Julie George has been handling the fundraising for Cap and said donors have been very generous.
It’s not just the Rosemount community that has shown support for Cap and Joel Carlson. The large Lakeville North student section at the game unfurled a banner that read “Stay Strong Cap and Joel”. Proof that high school football can have an impact that far outreaches the game on the field.
“That love and support is what is recharging out batteries, what keeps him going and gets us through some of those tough days,” Julie said. “I like to say it’s been overwhelmingly awesome.”
Follow Cap’s progress here: www.capgeorge.com
Follow Joel Carlson’s story: www.gofundme.com/f/joel-carlson