Lathrop Community Gathers in Support of High School Football Player Who Survived Brain Cancer

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LATHROP – The cheerleaders, the band and the supporters gathered in the stands weathered the rain to help make Keannu Linnell’s dream of playing football again come true.

“We’ve just become so enamored with this community and the support that they have for Keannu and his family. So, it wasn’t a surprise to us that even in the rain that this amount of people would come out to support him,” said Michele Sanders, VP of communications at the Make-A-Wish.

Linnell has been battling brain cancer since 2016 after doctors found a ping-pong sized tumor.

His diagnosis forced him to watch the sport he loves from the sidelines.

But, with the help of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Linnell will be back in the game despite currently being in a wheelchair.

“At Make-A-Wish we always try to make the impossible, possible,” said Sanders.

Saturday, 50 Lathrop High football players dressed in full pads as the Spartans and their rivals, the Weston Ranch Cougars, filmed a football game for the teen.

Make-A-Wish says they’re granting Linnell’s wish, virtually, with the help of the Emerge X-R crew.

“We’re filming a football game as if Keannu is the star quarterback again,” Sanders said.

The big wish reveal will be Friday back at Spartans’ stadium.

“When he takes those goggles off and the walls of that structure come down, he’s going to see his team right in front of him and we want the crowd to cheer on their local hero,” Sanders stated.

Lathrop High principal, Greg Leland says he was overwhelmed at the turnout.

“They’re all here really to honor Keannu and his family’s wish,” said Leland.

“We’ve never done something like this before and many times we rely on the community support to grant these wishes but we have not seen this type of support before. It means so much to Keannu and his family,” Sanders expressed.

The wet weather, delayed filming but the soggy Saturday morning didn't stop them from supporting Keannu.

“We’re excited to be part of granting this wish, but I hope his family and keannu know how much we care about him and how much we’re pulling for him and rooting for him to get better,” Leland said. “I want him to know he’ll never be forgotten. I hope it's a memory of a lifetime.”

Keannu’s family says the 17-year-old is now cancer free and aching to get back out on the field.


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