A true inspiration
Kera Parr's reaction to seeing Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and a handful of his Bulldog teammates ambling toward her was just about what you'd expect from a precocious 16-year-old teenage girl.
A dream, perhaps?
"Oh…my…God!" recalled the junior at Locust Grove High - a lifelong Bulldog fan. "I was just trying not to have a heart attack."
No, this wasn't a chance meeting inside a shopping mall or at a restaurant hanging out with her friends.
Instead, this meeting was planned, one between the Bulldog quarterback and some of his close friends who simply had to meet the young woman whose courage has inspired them beyond anything they've encountered on the football field.
You see, Parr is currently undergoing treatment at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston where she is battling Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
Parr's story is not unlike so many other youngsters who are treated there every day.
On June 11, a biopsy revealed that Parr was suffering from Ewing Sarcoma, which doctors discovered after examining what they first thought was simply a strained knee.
Unfortunately, it was much worse.
Wednesday afternoon, Parr completed her final phase of radiation and now must heal for another month before a new bone scan can be conducted to learn if the treatment has been a success.
Although doctors are certainly hopeful, with cancer, there are never any certainties.
But through it all, Parr's maintained her bubbly enthusiasm and infectious attitude, despite the loss of her hair and the tell-tale radiation burns on her body.
It's that zest for life and positive attitude that's had an effect on Murray, who along with brother Josh and fellow Bulldogs Chad Gloer, Austin Long, Blake Sailors and Bulldog cheerleader Katie McCreary surprised Parr with a visit to her hospital room on Monday.
"She was like 'Mama, they are so HOT,'" mother Belinda Schofill laughed. "She couldn't sleep the night before she was so excited. She was so cute with her wig and her Georgia hat on. It was just amazing."
Apparently, the feeling was mutual.
Parr was actually invited by the players to attend the season finale against Georgia Tech, but due to her radiation treatments, was too tired to make the trip to Athens.
But she wasn't forgotten.
After the game, players held up signs telling Parr hello, along with thanking her for being an inspiration.
Click Here to see a gallery of players taking time out of their celebration to pass on a message.
"Miss Kathy (Kathy Gloer) puts the pictures on Facebook and I must have read them like 20 times just to make sure I was reading it all right," Parr said. "It was just so wonderful that they wanted to do that for me."
As Parr soon learned, there would be more to come.
Despite being in the midst of preparing for final exams, the Murrays, Gloer, Sailors and Long were able to re-schedule their Monday weight session to drive to Atlanta to see their young friend.
"When we go through things like camp or mat drills, we might feel like life sucks but then we look at what Kera goes through and it puts everything in perspective," Sailors said. "She's definitey an amazing girl."
Schofill said her daughter has always been that way.
"Kera's always been a very strong person, and has always been one to make other people laugh, but it was good to see her with a different group of people she did not know, people who came to see her just to let her know they're praying for her to stay strong," Schofill said. "She's really an amazing girl, although she's not one to sit around and say 'Pray for me, pray for me.' She's praying for everybody else."
Rick and Libby Beach were inspired as well.
Residents of Hamilton Ga., the Beach's are huge Bulldog fans, who upon seeing a picture on Facebook posted by Gloer of Akeem Dent holding up one of the many signs, drove to Atlanta to meet Parr for themselves and as it turned to offer a helping hand.
As competitive barrel racers, the Beachs are organizing a rodeo fundraiser which Beach said is tentatively scheduled for January in Hamilton.
Although details are still being worked out, Rick Beach hopes several Bulldogs will be able to participate and is currently getting their apperance cleared with Georgia compliance.
"We just felt we needed to do something. Kera's mom is such a sweet lady and Kera is just an amazing girl," Rick Beach said. "And to see what these players are doing. I mean, it's not just because I'm a Bulldog fan, but to see these guys reach out to perfect strangers says a lot about their character, where they come from and how much they care."
Schofill laughed that it took a little convincing to assure her daughter that a fundraiser might be a good idea.
"When Kara found out she didn't want to do it because she didn't want anyone to think she was poor," Schofill said. "She just didn't understand, but I told her it's not because people think you're poor, it's just a way of reaching out to let you know that people care about you and are praying for your and things like that."
Parr admits the idea of seeing some of her new friends up on horses might be fun at that.
"We talk all the time and they tell me if I need them that they will be there," Parr said. "But yeah, that would be cool to see them on horses. Blake said he'd get on a horse for me. But I don't know, some of them are pretty crazy."
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