Football Team Celebrates Victory Over Player's Illness
Posted August 4, 1999
RALEIGH — When a child becomes seriously ill, parents suffer and so do communities. One local community, and its football team, pitched in to help a 12-year-old boy and his family heal.
No one would have guessed the Wilder's Grove Pop Warner football team would have made it to the national championship last fall. But they rallied together to finish fourth in the nation.
This summer, as they hit the practice field, they are celebrating another incredible victory.
One month after a kidney transplant, Russ Howell is more than glad to help his teammates as their water boy. They helped him get through his kidney transplant.
"A lot of the coaches and one of my favorites ... kept me laughing," Howell says.
Team members and their families brought food to Howell's house and raised money to help the Howells get through the tough time.
"All I did was mention it and everybody jumped in to help defer the expenses that the family had," says Bernard Freeman, Howell's coach.
Angela Reed says the help could not have come at a better time. She was the one who donated a kidney to save her son's life.
"I was shocked and I was also overwhelmed ... People really care. When you really think there's nobody there for you, there are more people there for you than you realize," she says.
Russ Howell plans to be there for his team next season. Photographer: Joe Anthony