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Reagan Raiders unite for student athlete battling cancer

Reagan Raiders unite for  student athlete battling cancer
May 14
00:00 2015
(Above: Photo by Tevin Stinson- Chase Vaden, left, and Denard Smoot, right, who were teammates of Savion Littlejohn, middle, have been one of the driving forces behind the Pray for Sae 7-on-7 football tournament. Vaden approached Savion with the idea while Smoot is responsible for getting participants for the tournament on May 30. )

By Tevin Stinson, For The Chronicle

Last year around this time, Savion Littlejohn, a sophomore linebacker at Reagan High School, was preparing for the summer grind of football season. This year football is not as important to the towering runstopper.

In a few weeks Savion will have his final treatment of chemotherapy.

After what seemed to be a simple back injury during the playoffs last season, Savion’s grandparents urged him to go to the hospital. That’s when he was diagnosed with lymphoma.

Savion, who is known for his hard-nose play on the field, took the news in stride. After four treatments of chermotherapy, he still walks the halls smiling.

“I see this as just a minor setback, but it’s cool,”  Savion said. “I know I’ll come out of this better than ever.”

Head football coach Josh McGee and “Raider Nation” got to work on helping Savion and his family every way they could. McGee, who has known Savion since his freshman year, is amazed at how fast they came up with ways to raise money.

“From fish plates to wristbands, we’ve done everything you could think of,” McGee said.

“I’m amazed at how people like Chase Vaden, who didn’t play with Savion that long, wanted to help.”

Vaden, who graduated in 2014 and only played one year with Savion, came up with the idea for the Pray for Sae 7-on-7 tournament. The tournament will be May 30 at Reagan and will put some of the best talent in the area on showcase. Admission will be $5; children under 10 get in free. All the proceeds and donations will go to Savion and his family.

Last year, Vaden helped organize a tournament that provided over 1,000 meals to the homeless of Winston-Salem.

“We wanted to do something a little different this year,” Vaden said. “I approached Savion with the idea, he agreed, and we started working on getting it done.”

The tournament will feature separate brackets for high school and college players. Registration for the tournament ended May 8. East Forsyth, Carver, Reagan, Mt. Tabor and Parkland High Schools will be represented. The finals of the tournament will be streamed nationwide on CoachesAid.com.

The tournament will be two-hand tag and will follow the double elimination format. Teams are allowed 10 players per team.  Match ups for the tournament have not yet been decided.

Denard Smoot, who is responsible for getting the teams to participate, believes no matter who wins, the match-ups will be a must-see.

“It will be very exciting,” Smoot said. “We have a lot of talent coming.”

Savion, whose favorite player is Ray Lewis, is eager to get back on the field. Most of all, he misses the intensity.

“That’s what I like most about football,” Savion said. “I can’t wait to get back on the field. There’s no doubt that I’ll be back out there.”

Pray For Sae 7-on-7

Date and Time: Saturday, May 30, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Place: Reagan High School, 3750 Transou Road, Pfafftown

Admission: $5; children 10 and under get in free

All money raised and donated on this day will be given to Savion Littlejohn, a current junior football player at Reagan High School who is battling lymphoma. Finals will be streamed nationwide on CoachesAid.com. For more information on the event as a whole, visit the website PrayForSae7on7.WebStarts.com or contact: Chase Vaden at jchasevaden@nullgmail.com or 336-354-8769.

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