WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Waterbury Career Academy student Jaden Bracey was recently diagnosed with a rare form of soft tissue cancer called synovial sarcoma but, you won’t find him feeling sorry for himself.
Instead, he feels empowered.
“You’ve gotta be brave,” Jaden said. “Stay strong.”
He’s getting some of that strength from his friends at school and from complete strangers in the Waterbury community who are rallying around him, raising money for his family to help with his medical treatments.
On Friday night, his school’s football team dedicated their game to him, hoping to raise more money based on the number of yards the running back racks up.
There’s even a hashtag (#BraveLikeBracey) that’s been created, which can be seen on special bracelets and t-shirts being sold around town.
There’s a GoFundMe account and people have donated food to the family so his parents, who drive him back and forth from Hartford for his treatments, don’t have to worry about finding time to make healthy family meals.
“Thank you very, very much,” said Jaden. “It is all very appreciated.”
He hasn’t been able to attend school because doctors said he can’t be exposed to germs because of his immune system.
His friends at school have been calling and texting, and they told him about the effort between the student council and players on the football team to dedicate the game to him.
Their game plan was to get people to pledge $1 for every three yards the running back is able to gain during the game.
It’s an important game for the team since they have an outside shot at a playoff berth. But the coaches and the players realize the final numbers on the scoreboard are not what’s most important.
Their minds will also be on a winning effort for Jaden.
“We’re using it to touch a community,” said Jalen Gopie, a player on the team. “Be there for someone who needs us.”
“We’re gonna get this win for you tonight, and you’re constantly on our mind,” said player, Gary Gega. “Just stay strong.”
“Tonight’s football game is really special to me because it shows my school is really supporting me,” Jaden said with a smile.
His mom feels the same way.
“Oftentimes, you hear so much negative about Waterbury and especially teenagers from Waterbury and we’ve seen the complete opposite,” said Jeana Bracey. “There’s so much love and so much support.”
Jaden said he’s going to beat cancer. His mom said she’s learned how much of a fighter her son is.