Seeing yellow

Community rallies to support senior with bone cancer

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This story was originally published in the first edition of The Lion’s Tale (September 18, 2018).

The color yellow is a symbol of happiness, hope and positivity. Recently, it has been the color unifying and strengthening Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS).

On Aug. 17, a student at Oviedo High School was diagnosed with a type of rare bone cancer, called Ewing Sarcoma. What made this news even more heartbreaking was that the student was senior Britton Daniel, Oviedo’s senior class president, and an important figure throughout Seminole County.

“The first day that my class found out was definitely a somber day for us,” said Student Government Association (SGA) sponsor Heather DeLong. “Everybody found out over the weekend, and we have definitely been reflecting on how much we care about him.”

On Aug. 22, Daniel began chemotherapy. He has been receiving treatment in Gainesville at the University of Florida Health Shands Cancer Hospital. In order to help fund the family’s medical expenses, a GoFundMe was created, and it has raised more than $40,000 as of Sept. 17.

“#B11STRONG” is the hashtag featured on all platforms of social media, representing Daniel and his growing support system.

“Everybody wants to give in some way,” said athletic director Jennifer Darty. “Whether it’s through a positive thought, financial support or just a conversation, and I think that’s really special.”

“It just gives me that much more strength to fight,” Daniel said. ”I honestly couldn’t do it without it all. It’s so comforting to see all the posts about me, it makes me feel loved.”

Yellow is the color for childhood cancer awareness. SGA arranged several yellow-out football games and pep rallies in support of Daniel and others affected by childhood cancer.

“We’re looking at different ways of bringing awareness,” DeLong said. “We’re working on getting an awareness t-shirt designed and then created, as well as awareness bands with Britton’s number on them and his name.”

The t-shirts and awareness bands have now been created, and yellow has become the predominant color in the community. Everywhere–from Lake Brantley High School, where Daniel’s mother is the principal, to Partin Elementary School–has had their students wear yellow in support.

“I love the way that the student body, teachers and administration at every single high school across Seminole County have really rallied around [Daniel],” Darty said. “They just want to see him get through this and really push, and let him feel the support of everybody.”

Daniel’s football teammates have openly voiced their support and love for him. Shortly after his diagnosis was announced, a rain-shortened practice allowed them to take action.

“It was a blessing,” said head varsity football coach Matthew Dixon. “We found a pair of hair clippers, and some of the players and coaches decided cut off their hair. It was a good gesture towards Britton to let him know that we support him.”

Players also wore yellow in their game against Timber Creek High School and lined up with ten men on their first offensive play, leaving Daniel’s spot open in his honor. At the game, wearing yellow, was head athletic trainer Erica Zimolzak-Coe, who came up with another way of showing support.

“[Zimolzak-Coe] is hoping we’ll be able to fold one thousand yellow cranes that she can put in the commons in order to show support for Britton,” DeLong said. “As well as for other students or individuals that may be dealing with childhood cancer. There’s folklore that says if you fold a thousand paper cranes a wish will come true.”

Family and friends alike are making sure to talk to Daniel as much as possible and lift his spirits up. His close group of friends are all Christian, and they look to the Bible for guidance.

“We’ve all shared specific Bible verses with him every morning,” said senior Ashton Coker. “We’ve sent him daily devotions just to keep his morale up, and talked to him on the phone all the time to let him know that we all love him and are there for him all the time.”

The group arranged a trip to Disney World before Daniel began his treatment. Coker explained that it was what the group needed.

“We got a group of our closest friends together and had an awesome time,” Coker said. “It’s definitely a memory we’ll have forever.”

The support throughout the community is prevalent because Daniel’s mother, Dr. Trent Daniel, has worked at many Seminole County schools, including Oviedo, Hagerty, and now Lake Brantley.

“The entire county wants to rally around it,” Darty said. “Hagerty is even jumping in on it. Everybody wants to show their support because he is a well-known kid across the county. He has a lot of friends and a lot of people that want to support him.”