SHAKOPEE, Minn. - A Shakopee High School football player touched by cancer is receiving huge support from his football family. It's just part of the support that communities are showing this season.
The Tackle Cancer Project is the brain-child of the Minnesota Football Coaches Association. Thanks to their efforts, 125 high school football teams across the state are hosting a Tackle Cancer night which raises money for the Randy Shaver Cancer Research & Community Fund.
Every team has a reason to get involved, but for Shakopee high school, it's personal.
Joel Strehl loves football and now that he's a starting linebacker, the senior is relishing each day.
He's also following in the footsteps of his dad.
"He started varsity when he was in 10th grade and started every year, so he loved football," Joel said about his dad.
But David Strehl never got to see his son play a varsity game. He was diagnosed with bone cancer last May and died in December leaving a wife and two boys behind.
"It was kind of a long grieving process," Joel said. "It wasn't just like you lose a parent in a car accident and it shocks you. It was more like the day we received the diagnosis we were already kind of preparing in the grieving process."
Joel's football family rallied around him.
"It's hit home for us with Joel, but we've all been impacted by it," said Jody Stone, Shakopee head coach.
And that's why Tackle Cancer at Shakopee High School this Friday night is so important.
"It seems like such a simple thing to do and seeing the amount of teams going to do it and we all pool our resources, it seems like a pretty simple effort to raise a lot of money for an important cause," Stone said.
Sometimes sports can be a welcome distraction for those who've lost a loved one. In Joel's case it serves a greater purpose.
"A distraction? I wouldn't really call it a distraction," he said. "I'd call it more of a good reminder for something to keep in my heart of my dad."
For a complete listing of are Tacke Cancer events, go to the KARE 11 Community page.
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