The Coffeyville Community College Red Ravens return to the gridiron tonight in their first football game of the season. And while they’re looking for a win, they’re also hoping to help save lives.
Tonight’s game has been dedicated to organ donor awareness. In 2004 head coach Aaron Flores was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease. Earlier this year he received a double lung transplant, enabling him to return to the sidelines.
Offensive lineman Zachary Terry says having him back makes tonight’s game an incredibly special one.
“He’s our leader. He leads us into battle, we follow him into battle, and not having him there was, it was different,” says Zachary Terry.
Terry says when the team found out Flores would be receiving the needed double lung transplant, it was more than a relief.
“It was pure joy. We were all excited for him, I know I texted him, I wished him good luck, and we were all just on the edge of our chairs waiting to make sure he got out of surgery just fine,” says Terry.
Flores says it was hard having to take a step back from the team for a few games last year, but now he’s back, and ready to make up for lost time.
“I’m trying to hold my emotions back. When I woke up this morning, I was excited about it, and each minute that goes by I get more and more excited as we build up towards seven o’clock,” says Aaron Flores.
Thursday’s game is about more than just getting the first win of the season, though. It’s been dedicated to organ donor awareness, and flores says he’s hoping his story helps.
“Just spreading the word of how important the gift of life is, and that’s what it is. A person made a choice, they and their family made a choice to be donors,” says Flores.
And perhaps it’s even appropriate the Red Raves are playing the Iowa Western Reivers for the game.
“Coach Strohmeier over there, his mother had this surgery done, it was either 14 or 17 years ago. She was somebody I reached out to before I had the surgery to ask questions, and she was great,” says Flores.
At the game, Flores will get the chance to meet her for the first time, and to say thank you. And Terry says he and the rest of the team will get the chance to thank everyone who’s saved a life by donating an organ.
“It’s one of the best things you can do to give part of your life, part of your body away to help somebody in the future,” says Zachary Terry.
You can sign up to be an organ donor through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. We’ve provided a link for you here.