For 15 years, Stephen Gilmore has battled cancer. He beat it twice, and now he’s fighting for a third time. Through it all, football has been his salvation. He soaks up the sport in every way possible, including acting as the team manager for the Salisbury (N.C.) football team.
On Friday night he lived out a dream by putting on a Salisbury uniform, acting as captain and playing in the first play of the game. As part of the Senior Night festivities, he walked onto the field with his mom, Wendy Gilmore Baskins.
“He’s a different child. But they’ve always accepted him,” Gilmore Baskins said. “The students, they push him to do more, ‘You can do this, Stephen.’”
It wasn’t the first time the students at Salisbury have come together to support their classmate. In May he was named prom king. But for a lifelong football fan, putting on the pads and uniform and taking a handoff was the ultimate dream.
“Stephen’s been an inspiration for the entire school through his battle,” said Salisbury principal Luke Brown. “And it was his dream to suit up with our guys.”