"Keep working hard. Keep fighting."
Those were Dylan Rebeor's final words to his Columbia Central High School teammates before the Lions' Tennessee 5A state championship football game in 2010.
Rebeor didn't play in the game—a 28-7 win for Columbia—but he was far and away the most valuable player in the minds of his teammates on that triumphant night.
Rebeor had been diagnosed with colon cancer in March of that year, forcing him to give up the sport he loved in order to fight his life-threatening illness. But Rebeor never quit on his teammates. He continued to attend team practices and games, and he served as an honorary captain when the team played in the state semifinal game.
"As each game got bigger, Dylan's significance to our team got even bigger," said former Columbia Central head coach Vance Belew.
On the morning of the state title game, Rebeor lost his battle with cancer. In the team's locker room before the kickoff, Eric Belew, a team captain and close friend of Rebeor's, commanded his team to "Do what Dylan would do. Fight until that clock hits zero. Show everybody the power of Dylan."
The power of Dylan Rebeor was on full display as his team won the state championship game on that December night; and today, his memory lives on through the "Fight Like Dylan" contest, presented by Russell Athletic.
To honor the courage and perseverance personified by Rebeor, Russell Athletic will award a $50,000 uniform grant to a high school with a sports program that demonstrated perseverance like Dylan's. Anyone connected to a high school—a player, coach, parent, fan or school administrator—can apply for the grant by submitting a story about how his or her school's athletic team or program showed perseverance to overcome adversity.
The Fight Like Dylan 2013 contest is accepting applications from now until Dec. 2. Entries may be submitted at facebook.com/russellathletic. Postings should be as specific as possible, and may not exceed 500 words in length.
Visit the page to learn more about this opportunity and the inspirational athlete for whom the award is named.
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