Olympic-bound pole vaulter Sam Kendricks of Ole Miss fame is the newest member of #TeamDonnyFaerber — supporters of a Gulfport High School student fighting leukemia.
Kendricks’ aunt, Susan Kendricks, taught Donny when he was in seventh grade at Bayou View Middle School. She is one of many Gulfport residents who have come together to support Donny, the son of a single father who broke his neck in January shortly after Donny was diagnosed.
Susan Kendricks said she shared Donny Faerber’s story with Sam Kendricks’ mom. The Bayou View teacher told the Sun Herald on Friday, “Sam texted me this morning and said, ‘I’m proud to wear it.’ ”
Sam Kendricks, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve who lives in Oxford, set a U.S. Trials record when he qualified earlier this month for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with a vault of 19 feet, 4.75 inches, olemisssports.com reported. The website said he beat the second qualifier by more than a foot.
“He is a sweet, sweet young man,” Susan Kendricks said.
Sam Kendricks said he wants to meet Donny when he returns from the Olympics, where he plans to wear the bracelet when he is not competing.
Donny, 15, has spent more time in the hospital than out since he was diagnosed. He has been home this week, but will return next week for chemotherapy at the University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile. He is awaiting a bone marrow transplant.
A classmate of Donny Faerber’s came up with the idea of bracelets to help raise money for expenses associated with his illness. Friends also have set up a GoFundMe page.
“He’s such a sweet, phenomenal kid, he really is, and has the best spirit,” Susan Kendricks said.
She said Donny wears a smile despite what he is going through.
“He’s a strong young man.”
Sam Kendricks also will wear a bracelet in Rio that says, “God has this.” It is for another former student of Susan Kendricks who has the same kind of leukemia as Donny.