GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Students returned to Greeneville Middle School for their first day since the loss of one of their own.
Seventh-grader Kaden Gunter passed away Friday. Gunter suffered a medical emergency at football practice last Tuesday.
Greeneville City Schools Assistant Director of Schools Dr. Suzanne Bryant said it is a tremendous loss for the school.
“He was well-loved by everyone in the school and in the community,” Bryant said. “Just such a tragic loss and such a sudden loss and everyone’s just shocked and grieving right now.”
Gunter’s aunt, Brooke Laughlin, spoke with News Channel 11 after the loss of her nephew.
She said Kaden left a lasting impact on her and so many around him in his life.
“There so many things I could tell you about him in his short 12 years of life,” Laughlin said. “That he is an amazing, incredible, smart, intelligent, young man.
“He was there for everyone. He always had something encouraging to say to you. He always had uplifting messages. He is all-around a great kid.”
Laughlin said football was a dominant force in Kaden’s life.
“He would talk about it almost 24/7,” Laughlin said. “He’d come home and he’d be like, ‘Oh, football was great today. I can’t wait to go back tomorrow.'”
Bryant said everyone at the middle school impacted by the loss will be given the space to grieve.
“We have our counselors at Greeneville Middle School,” Bryant said. “We have counselors from the elementary schools and Greeneville High School at Greeneville Middle School this week.”
The school has also brought in counselors from Frontier Health and Ballad Health.
Loss is tough for everyone, but especially children. Bryant said the school has sent out specific guidance for parents.
“We sent information to parents provided by our mental health support team of how to talk to your children about grief,” Bryant said.
Tributes to Kaden at Greeneville High School’s football game against Volunteer and a vigil last week brought the community together and showed Kaden had the whole region behind him.
Laughlin said those moments were a big help to her family.
“We can’t express our gratitude to everyone who’s reached out, who’s done various things for us,” Laughlin said. “We just want to let them know how thankful we are for each and every one of them.”
Laughlin said her family will honor Kaden’s life by keeping his name out there.
“While he may not be physically here, he will always be with them emotionally, spiritually, just always with them,” Laughlin said.
Greeneville High School will host Kaden Gunter’s funeral on Sunday at 2 p.m. inside Burley Stadium.