William Blount celebrates seniors & cancer survivors with 'Be the Light' event

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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- High school stadiums across the country have been empty for a month now, but light up at night. It's part of a movement called 'Be the Light', designed to give student athletes hope.

William Blount softball coach Amanda Leatherwood started flipping the light switch at Chris Houser Field on Tuesday night - at exactly 8:20 p.m.

"8:20 p.m. is 2020 in military time so that's the significance. So we leave the lights on for 20 minutes to represent the class of 2020," said Leatherwood.

It's a message of hope to the Governors' five seniors who never got to finish out their spring semesters. "When it gets too dark that's when you think about flipping on the lights so that's really symbolic right now cause I feel like it's been a little dark."

On Friday night Leatherwood passed on her duties to eight year-old Parker Pass. Parker was diagnosed with B Cell-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in July 2016 - just after his 4th birthday - and went through intense chemotherapy chemo for almost a year. He was only allowed out of the house for chemo visits due to his nonexistent immune system.

"The first year was definitely the hardest. I guess with all the COVID-19 [quarantines] going on we've kind of been there, done that. We've been secluded and had to get takeout so this has kind of brought back some memories," said mother Sarah Pass.

After the initial round of chemo, Parker moved into nearly three more years of what Sarah calls “maintenance” chemo. In all, Parker endured 1160 days of chemotherapy - completing his last treatment on September 21, 2019.

On top of flipping the light switch Friday, Parker threw a ceremonial first pitch to his sister Kayley - a freshman on Leatherwood's team this season. Parker was scheduled to throw out the first pitch at the team's Strike Out Cancer game before the season was suspended.

The annual Strike Out Cancer game is on hold but the team is still selling t-shirts to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital until 11:59 p.m. on April 26th. The shirts can be found here.