Video hopes to reward community after year of health battles, tragedies

VIDEO: Troutman football group in NFL video competition

TROUTMAN, NC (WBTV) - After a community stepped up to help several Troutman families going through difficulties and tragedies, the families are trying to give back through a contest to get to the Super Bowl.

The Troutman youth football community has been hit with trials over the past year after two eighth grade players were diagnosed with brain cancer and a brain tumor.

Matthew Bailey was diagnosed with a rare, inoperable cancerous brain tumor in March 2014 and the community support around him was immediate. After his diagnosis, Matthew made a "Top Ten" list of things he wanted to do and has already started marking things off his list.

Since March, Matthew been able to meet Carolina Panthers' quarterback Cam Newton, he's talked with Tim Tebow and even gone to the Final Four in Texas.

But there is one really big thing left on his list... the Super Bowl.

That's where Kristi Stevenson comes in.

Matthew's Top Ten list gave her the idea that the community that had given so much, needed to be rewarded.

She wanted to submit a video to the National Football League (NFL)'s "Together We Make Football" contest which would send the winning group to Arizona for the "ultimate Super Bowl experience."

Matthew Bailey opens the video submitted to the NFL, which also features his friend, classmate and teammate Gavin Miller.

Gavin, the son of South Iredell High School football coach Scott Miller, was diagnosed with a brain tumor last month and had an operation for the tumor.

"If it wasn't for the community and football here with Troutman, the youth association and the middle school and the high school, I'm not sure that we would have been able to get through this and be where we are today," coach Scott Miller says in the video.

Gavin's surgery took place on the same day as South Iredell's home opener. The community gathered on the field to pray for Gavin and his family after a 31-0 win. Shirts saying "Pray for Gavin" have been made as the community cheers Gavin along his long road of recovery.

"This community is amazing. It came together through our adversity and other adversity," Scott Miller said. "And we hope that with the NFL and 'Together We Make Football' this community can be rewarded with a trip to the Super Bowl."

Stevenson says Gavin and Matthew both play for Troutman Middle School, which won the county championship last year, and have played together in the Troutman youth league for years. Her son also plays in the league and is a few years younger than the boys.

She says there are three ways to enter the contest: a video, photos or an essay. She did all three.

The crux of the video and essay circles around the slogan for Troutman's football program - "Never Give up, Never Give In, Troutman Fights, Troutman Wins."

"Football bonds our community. This is our chant in any battle we face and during player huddles," Stevenson wrote. "We have faced several personal battles that have bonded us as a community. This chant means so much to us as a community and without football bonding us many could have given up and may have felt defeated by the battles they face."

One of those people featured in the video is Laurie Klum who was diagnosed with breast cancer, twice, in the past five years.

Decked out in her full pink gear, Klum talked about the effort the Troutman football community made for her.

"What this football family means to me is love. When you see boys decked out in pink from head to toe with pink hair and pink fingernails - that's the best medicine that there is," she said. "We want 'Together We Make Football' to know that our community is all about love."

The community has rallied around Klum to support and pray for her through her difficult journey.

"In October, the players and the community come out wearing their pink with pride in support of Laurie," Stevenson said. "Pink ribbons are placed on all Troutman helmets in her honor."

Shannon Chambers and her husband Marcus, who is a football coach, suffered a fire at their home last August, destroying their home and belongings. Stephenson says the Troutman football community rallied together to provide clothes, food, supplies and love for the family.

"Our community came forward and supported us in every way possible," Chambers says in the video. "We lost everything we owned and our family became all of Troutman."

"There have also been tragedies in our families - we've lost children to tragedy," she continued.

Stevenson lost her own 7-year-old son, Shawn, in 2003. She says it has been very emotional for her to see the battles these young children and their parents are facing. She says she wanted to be able to give back to the community based on what she went through and all the support she was given 11 years ago.

"Together we make football through our community," Chambers echoed. "Our community has come together through so many forms and fashion that we will continue to support one another, no matter whether we win this contest or we do not."

Stevenson says while they hope to win the contest and send a group to the Super Bowl, the support they have already received from the video has been rewarding in itself.

"It's amazing that so many people want to watch the video, our story," she said. "It's overwhelming to hear that people have watched and were touched by it. We've gotten little notes from people who have seen it."

After the video was submitted to the NFL, an extended version was posted on Facebook. The extended version highlights the support given to Logan Smith and the Mattingly family.

Logan was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in June and his family says the news was devastating, but the community support has been huge.

Halson Mattingly talks about his brother, Bo, who has Autism.

"He can't be out there and play. I just try to, when I'm out there, give 100% because he can't be out there," he says.

Halson also reminds his teammates how important it is for them to be thankful they have the ability to play football. The community as rallied around them and the team has Autism stickers placed on the back of the helmets representing Bo.

"We fight these battles with love, positivity, and pride. We unite ourselves as a football family and community," Stevenson said. "It has been a long tough road for many in our community and our one common denominator is FOOTBALL. Troutman Youth Athletic Association is a thoughtful, blessed organization full of love for families and our players."

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