A crowd of approximately 1,000 people roared before the start of the Bedford Senior High football home opener, as school administrators dedicated the new scoreboard at Bedford Community Stadium. Many of the fans in attendance sported red “I Am Scout Strong” t-shirts in honor of the occasion.
Exactly seven months prior to the game, one of their team members succumbed to brain cancer. In the month leading up to his passing, wish kid Jonathan’s focus was giving a wish of a new scoreboard to his high school’s football team.
Jonathan’s parents and three siblings stood on the field beside a beautiful portrait of Jonathan, as they listened to the dedication presentation prior to kickoff.
At the conclusion of the celebratory yet emotional presentation, Jonathan’s three siblings pulled a cord to reveal the Kicking Mules’ new scoreboard, featuring Jonathan’s No. 56, much to the delight of the crowd.
For his parents, former teammates and the Bedford community, the scoreboard dedication marked a time to remember and celebrate the offensive linesman who lived for football and his team.
“The whole family lost it and so did I,” Bedford football coach Jeff Wood said of the dedication. “It was very emotional. It was a great tribute to such a fantastic young man. We still say, ‘Scout Strong.’ He still lives with us.”
When Jonathan received his brain cancer diagnosis, his social worker referred him to Make-A-Wish® Michigan as he underwent chemo and radiation treatments. After careful consideration, Jonathan decided to wish to give a scoreboard to his high school.
“Jonathan was a giver,” Jonathan’s mom, Julie, said. “He never asked for anything, and he always saw the good in people.”
Due to the quick decline in Jonathan’s health, Make-A-Wish Michigan turned to their community partner and sponsor, Meijer, with the opportunity to sponsor Jonathan’s scoreboard wish. Meijer quickly confirmed their interest in the project, which enabled the wish team to create a rendering of the scoreboard and schedule a wish reveal at his hospital.
The 17 seniors on Jonathan’s team along with his family, representatives from Make-A-Wish Michigan, his doctor and social worker gathered in his hospital room to show their support and witness the scoreboard rendering reveal. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room after Jonathan, who could no longer speak, gave a thumbs-up gesture and a big smile upon seeing his scoreboard rendering. Six days following the reveal, Jonathan passed away at home surrounded by family.
The new scoreboard at Bedford Community Stadium will serve as a permanent reminder of Jonathan’s legacy in the community and how one wish helped bring an entire community together.
“His last wish was to give something back to his teammates and the community of Bedford,” Jonathan’s teammate Jacob Curtis said. “It’s just really special and it just speaks to the kind of person he is.”