GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Family, students, and community members gathered at the Greeneville Middle School football field Wednesday to show support for a hospitalized student.
Seventh-grader Kaden Gunter experienced a medical emergency during football practice on Tuesday.
According to family members, Kaden is in critical but stable condition. They said he is being transported to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville as of Wednesday.
Kaden’s aunt and uncle said Wednesday’s vigil was a way to give the community a chance for the community to gather and show their love and support for their nephew.
“It’s overwhelming. In a good way,” Brooke Laughlin, Kaden’s aunt, said. “Just knowing how many people care for Kaden and for my sister and the family, it means more to us than anybody can ever know.”
Laughlin described her nephew as “one of the strongest young men” that she knows.
She told News Channel 11 that she wants Kaden to know how much support he has.
“I want him to know that you have a community supporting you,” Laughlin said. “Your football team is behind you, your coaches. There’s a lot of people who love you and support you.”
The school’s principal, Rachel Adams, lauded how the coaching staff responded during the incident at practice.
“Their quick responses and quick thinking saved Kaden’s life,” Adams said. “We’ve been told by multiple people that if they hadn’t acted so quickly, we might be in a different place today. So I just can’t thank our coaches enough for their incredible response.”
Adams said since the incident happened, people have reached out asking how they can help.
“We take pride in being the Greene Devil family,” Adams said. “But over the past 24 hours, the community has come together and just showered Kaden and his family in support and love, but also our students and staff.”
Adams said that Kaden is a friend to everyone at school and that he is an incredible young man.
“Today when I was talking with his mom, she said, ‘I realize Kaden had a lot of friends but oh, my gosh, he has so many friends,'” Adams said. “And I said, ‘You’re right.’ I said, ‘There’s not anybody that’s not Kaden’s friend.’ He’s like that in the hallways, in the classroom and the lunchroom. He’s just a very likable, joyful person to be around.”
Greeneville City Schools is encouraging students, faculty, and staff to wear blue, Kaden’s favorite color, on Thursday.
A portion of ticket sales from Thursday’s middle school home football game and Friday’s Greeneville High School game at Volunteer will go to Kaden’s family to help cover medical costs and travel expenses.