Tazewell County Virginia

Richlands, greater southwest Virginia rally around teen battling osteosarcoma

RICHLANDS, VA (WVNS) - Another Wednesday night of high school hoops and excitement for Richlands fans, including senior Rachel Carter.

"I feel like the school and this whole community are like one big family," Carter said. "When we're all packed in that gym together, it's an amazing experience."

Even though she is an avid tennis and soccer player, she can attest her brother Zac can up the ante in being the bigger sports fan in the family.

"He likes basketball and he also likes tennis," Rachel said. "He used to play it a lot, so he watches it sometimes on TV."

But he is also known as a fighter beyond the court. Even though Zac beat his battle with leukemia, his current fight with metastatic osteosarcoma is his toughest one yet, leading him to have both of his legs amputated.

When the news of that operation spread, Richlands assistant Boys Basketball Coach Patrick Wade came up with an idea to honor Zac. He and coaches with the Richlands soccer and basketball teams honored him with a white-out theme for Wednesday night's quad, along with a donation station set up for monetary contributions. People could also write letters, cards and other items of encouragement to be sent to Zac. 

"We just wanted to reach out to him and let him know that he's not by himself," Wade said. "You look and you see somebody like that. He's just fighting through so much, and he's just got such a great resolve and, more than anything, such a great spirit."

Rachel's reaction was indescribable.

"I was really in complete shock," Rachel said. "I was amazed that they were doing this for my family and me. Words can't describe how much it means to us."

Even the visitors from Marion, including player Audrey Moss, wanted to join Team Zac.

"Just because we're not in the same town, I think we should still support him," Moss said.

Although he was not able to be at the game due to ongoing treatment at St. Jude's Hospital in Memphis, everyone wanted to let Zac know that they have his back.

"We're pulling more from Zac than Zac's pulling from us," Wade said. "He's such an uplifting story, such a great young man."

"It just makes me feel awesome for everyone to supporting our family like they are," Rachel said.

All proceeds from the white-out went towards the Carter family.

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