HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Winning a football is one thing, but trying to win a fight with cancer in the name of one special student was the ultimate goal at Friday night's Hancock High versus Bay High football game.
Hancock High likes to tailgate, and so does senior Sara Sabbagh. But Friday's tailgate much different — it was in honor of her friend, Glenda Rockwell, who died of Hodgkin's Lymphoma in June.
"She was such a bright spirit just like any person here in Hancock County," Sabbagh said. "And with her passing was her bright spirit passed on to us. So not only has it passed on to us, it's passed on to all the schools in our area. … A death is not a symbol of separation, it's a symbol of unity. The community comes together over her to celebrate."
The game is normally called The Battle for the Paddle, but on Friday it was known as The Battle for the Cure. Proceeds from all T-shirts sales at the game went toward cancer research.
Sharon Gaudin saw the game from many perspectives. Gaudin is the wife of Hancock coach Rocky Gaudin, but she's also with Memorial Medical Oncology and coordinated a bone-marrow registry for the game.
"I've had calls from people saying can I come and just donate," said Gaudin. "I'm not particularly interested in the football game. Which is great. We love to have that."
Among those who were part of the bone marrow registry was the entire coaching staff for Bay High School. The event had a big effect on both sides of the field.
"She was a great student," said Bay High freshman Ariana Moody. "She never let that cancer beat her down. Her saying was, 'Suck it up buttercup,' which was making her seem like, 'Oh, I've got this.' And it was really sad that she died."
It was all because of a senior wish by friend Shelby Anderson.
"I'm still kind of stunned right now," Anderson said. "I knew Glenda was loved but I didn't know she was this loved. Like there are just so many people, that I ... Words just can't describe my feelings right now."
Amy Coyne, principal of Bay High, says this will have a lasting effect.
"The community effort the ties that we have made with this school and the whole community are definitely things that won't end tonight."