FORT GIBSON — Fort Gibson High School held a pep rally without its main Tiger mascot on Friday.
However, the mascot, Jaren Shelton, was there in spirit because some of the support was for him.
Shelton, a senior, was recently treated for a brain tumor and diagnosed with testicular cancer, said Fort Gibson cheerleading coach Kaniowah Hare.
“He is the pride and joy of all of our sporting events, because he is our tiger mascot and cheerleader,” Hare said. “Our community and town has really rallied around him with prayer and support.”
At a Friday afternoon pep rally before the football season home opener against the Tahlequah Tigers, cheerleaders wore light purple to show solidarity with Shelton. Purple is the color for testicular cancer awareness.
FGHS cheerleader Rachel McElmurry, a senior, said the squad wanted to show its support.
“He is a great mascot, and he talks to the kids,” McElmurry said about Shelton. “It’s great to see how they come together and really love him.”
The support continued Friday night. Hare said Tahlequah students also planned to wear purple in solidarity.
Hare said several groups and individuals are raising funds to help the family with costs related to Shelton’s treatment.
For example, people can buy a “Fight like a Tiger” T-shirt designed by Shelton’s father and sister, Hare said. Shelton’s father is high school science teacher Mike Shelton, who also coaches football, golf and basketball.
The shirts are $15 each and are available at the Tigers Den store in Fort Gibson, she said.
Accounts to support the Shelton family also have been set up at Fort Gibson State Bank and on the Internet fundraising website gofundme, Hare said.
More fundraisers are planned. Hare said the cheerleading squad plans to sell mailbox decorations in purple and the red and white school colors. Two squad members are selling purple awareness bracelets, she said.
People also can keep up with Shelton’s treatment on the “Prayers for Jaren” Facebook page, Hare said.
Shelton had an accident with his Gator utility vehicle earlier in August, Hare said. A CAT scan revealed a brain tumor, she said. After having surgery on Aug. 26 to remove the tumor, Shelton was diagnosed with testicular cancer, she said.
The cancer mostly strikes younger and middle-aged men and usually can be treated successfully, according to the American Cancer Society website.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or email@example.com.