Former ball boy, Jared Chitwood, 15, was honored before the EKU men’s basketball game against UT Martin on Thursday night at McBrayer Arena.
Jared passed away after a long battle with cancer in 2018.
Jared was a familiar face around EKU athletics and made a mark on the men’s basketball program.
“He was a helper and he was the kind of kid that liked to help others,” Jared’s mother Kim Chitwood said.
During remission, Jared lost his ability to walk which was something his mother was not expecting.
“It was hard for him to be the one that needed the help,” Kim said.
Through the fall of 2017, he was still in remission and the Chitwood family enjoyed Christmas together. Kim said he got his smile back which was something she missed a lot.
Jared was admitted into the hospital in March of 2018 and diagnosed with c-diff, and Kim said, that was the worst she had ever seen him.
During that time most of their family was sick and unable to see him in the hospital.
Jared’s condition kept getting worse and scans showed that there were masses on his brain and some of his organs.
“That’s something we were not prepared for,” Kim said. “As a mom, I knew that this was not good and the chances of Jared recovering were not really great. So we had one last night where we had my boys together talking and had a last photo with them. Some family and friends were able to come see him and the following day he stopped responding and on March 22 of 2018 he took his last breath as I held him.”
During this cancer battle, Kim and the Chitwood family learned a lot and want to help others.
“We learned that life is super short and you have to treat others the way you want to be treated,” Kim said. “You don’t really know when your last day is going to be.”
Kim said that the community reached out and helped them through this tough time.
“It was such a great blessing,” she said. Kim said that having other people reach out and have a conversation with them about anything and to get their mind off the terrible situation was priceless.
Jared made a lasting impact on the men’s basketball team said head coach A.W. Hamilton.
Hamilton and the team honored Jared by wearing #TeamJared pink shirts. The team started #TeamJared to remember the 15-year-old and his dedication and support for EKU men’s basketball.
The men’s basketball team hopes to continue to honor his legacy for many years to come.
Hamilton was glad to see the community come out and support the team and the Chitwood family.
Along with honoring Jared before the game, the community came together for the first walk for a cure around Alumni Coliseum in memory of Jared.
Kim and the Chitwood family hopes to build on the outpouring of support this year and get more people to participate in the walk next year.
Kim also spoke to the crowd about being there for one another during tough times and helping others whenever you can, especially when someone is battling cancer.
“I would encourage you to always keep cancer awareness at the front of your mind,” Kim said. “I know that Jared is definitely smiling down from heaven.”
The event honoring the former EKU ball boy ended with a group photo.
Before the game against UT Martin, EKU athletics passed out free pink #TeamJared t-shirts.
The women’s basketball team also honored those who have battled cancer. The team showed their support in a pre- game video and at halftime they honored the Madison County Breast Cancer Outreach.
Before each basketball game, former Dean of the College and Health Sciences, Sheila Pressley was also honored and a moment a silence was held in her memory.