The championship Eastmark High School football team is currently seeking help for one of its own in the Queen Creek Unified School District.
The team's No. 48, Kevin Winegar, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia a few weeks ago and has since begun treatment. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells.
"Firebirds family, friends and fans, your support has been monumental. We call on you once again as one of our sons is now in the fight of his life," the football Firebirds explained on their Facebook page last week.
Winegar's aunt, Ana Winegar, has developed a GoFundMe account at gofundme.com/f/safsgu-winegar-strong called "Winegar Strong," where she explains what's going on and says the family lovingly calls Kevin "Joey." She's also giving updates there and as of today, $14,402 of the $100,000 goal has been raised by the community to help with his health care expenses.
On Dec. 13, Winegar's parents received a phone call that no parent ever wants to receive, saying that "Joey's" test results from that morning visit to the doctor had come back and that they did not look good. Ana said: "His amazing doctor worked hard to get him in to be seen at Desert Banner Children's Hospital. You see, Joey had been having some issues with knee pain and some fevers, but football season was in full mode and we all thought it was just part of wear and tear from football season and all the games leading to their championship, which they won by the way! That’s right, we believe he played a total of six games while silently battling this."
Winegar was admitted to the hospital that Dec. 13 evening and by the next morning more tests had been done, Ana said, that confirmed he has leukemia. "This is a kid who eats healthy, works out, has a job, who loves our Savior, who will serve anyone and everyone, who is kind and funny and loving, just got his (driver's) license, who has goals and dreams. This is something none of us saw coming. His official diagnosis is acute lymphoblastic leukemia," she said.
Winegar has finished his first round of chemo, but more treatments are to come and his aunt said she set up the GoFundMe account because his parents, "Doorly and Kevin, do so much for others and now it is our turn to do for them. Let’s help them lessen the burden of all those bills and extra trips and eating outs by raising some money for them. Believe me, no matter how rich or poor a person is, when it comes to dealing with insurances and bills, we all can use the help. So let’s show them some love and donate for Joey. And if you can’t donate, then remember to keep him in your prayers. I will keep updates on how things are going. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts," is what Ana Winegar posted on the "Winegar Strong" site.
"Kevin is more than a beloved teammate. He's a brother, a devoted, compassionate friend, a brave warrior. Please consider donating to his amazing family as they navigate this daunting path. Prayers, positive thoughts, good vibes and healing energy are appreciated as well. We love you Kevin. Your football family is with you every step of the way," the football Firebirds added on thier Facebook page.