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HS Football Community Supports Five-Year-Old Isaiah Hazard

Photo Credit: La Salle Academy

UPDATE: A benefit for Isaiah Hazard has been organized for Thursday, November 15, 2018. Click the image below for more details…

A request was recently sent to the Rhode Island Interscholastic League from Melissa Petrangelo, a board member with the North Kingstown Jaguars Youth Football organization. The contents of Petrangelo’s request were straightforward:

Please, show support for Isaiah Hazard.

Hazard is a five-year-old who captain of his NK Jaguar flag football team. Some distressing news about him was discovered in September.

Isaiah was suffering from a rare disease, Transverse Myelitis, that had left the young football fan paralyzed from the neck down.

In the blink of an eye, Hazard went from touchdowns and high fives to struggling to breathe while lying in a hospital bed due to the inflammation of his spinal cord.

Update: Please CLICK HERE for an update from Isaiah’s mom.

Please, Petrangelo asked RIIL executive director Tom Mezzanotte, tell the member schools about Hazard’s story. Tell them how much this special youngster loves football. There’s strength in numbers. Let’s show Hazard that this fight shouldn’t be his alone.

The enormity of Hazard’s illness has prompted an outpouring of support, particularly from the Rhode Island high school football community.

The call officially went out when the RIIL posted a message on the league’s Twitter account (@RIIL_sports), and started a poignant hashtag – #teamisaiah.

Answering The Call

The tweet was all that football programs and high school across Rhode Island needed to see.

Some schools used Twitter as a platform to send messages of sympathy. Whether it was posting a picture or a short video, they were all genuine and touching. Coming together in such a unifying fashion illustrates how Hazard’s pain was deeply felt across the state, especially through the connecting thread of football.

Most of the players and coaches sending their prayers did not personally know Hazard but, thanks to the power of social media, they could relate to him as a younger brother who needed their support and encouragement.

Members of the Lincoln High School football team let Isaiah know he is in their thoughts and prayers during a 14-second video that was posted on the school’s Twitter page for athletics (@LHSRI_Athletics) on October 5.

“Our kids jumped at the chance to help out Isaiah,” said Lincoln High head coach Sean Cavanaugh. “They know they only get through the daily grind of football because they have each other and when real life adversity hits, we need to find strength together. It was uplifting to see how eager they were to show support. Hopefully, it provides Isaiah some strength to keep fighting. All teams rallying up for him is inspiring. This is an example of the lessons of football reaching beyond the field.”

“From one warrior to another, get well soon”

That speech was delivered by Central Falls senior running back/linebacker Jordan Alvarado to Hazard as part of a video that was posted to Twitter under the Warriors’ handle (@Fic27), run by the school’s athletic director and assistant football coach, Anthony Ficocelli.

The Warriors were one of the first RIIL schools to send Hazard words of encouragement via social media.

“Our guys are very good knowing that this stuff matters to families in a time of need. We have dealt with our own tragedies over the years and our school community understands and realizes the importance of support,” said CF’s Ficocelli. “Our guys know the pain it can cause and how important it is to be there for each other, even if we are in different cities.”

Rhode Island Football Family Rallies

Getting his Bishop Hendricken team to wish Hazard a speedy recovery was an easy sell, according to head coach Keith Croft.

“As a parent of young kids, something like that breaks your heart. It’s unexplainable,” said Croft. “We prayed for Isaiah before our Friday night games. It’s a touching story and you hope the best for the kid and the family. One of the things we tell our players is to really appreciate everything that you have been blessed with. At any moment, your life can change. You get mad about a game, but something like this helps keep things in perspective.”

On consecutive weekends, the Johnston and West Warwick high school football teams dedicated their respective contests to Hazard.

The Panthers and Wizards took the field fully confident not in their ability to execute their game-plans but also knew they were doing their part to help put a smile on Isaiah’s face on otherwise tough days.

Moses Brown became the latest team to throw their support behind Isaiah with a video that was released under head coach Willie Edwards’ Twitter handle (@MbQuakerFball).

In the video, the Quaker players held up two jerseys and proclaimed that they’ll be signed and delivered to Hazard.

LaSalle Rams Join Team Isaiah

Like a deep fly pattern down the sideline, La Salle Academy went a major step further beyond the video route.

Head coach Geoff Marcone visited Hazard in the hospital to see if it would be OK with the family to have a few La Salle players accompany Marcone the next time. When Marcone returned to see Hazard, he was joined by six La Salle players.

“In our program, we talk at length about one of the biggest things you can give someone and that’s time,” said Marcone. “We did a video, but I was just thinking about how many people have actually gone to see the kid. Isaiah said it would mean the world to him if some of the guys came by to spend time with him. They were actually excited to go and see him. I also think they realized the impact they had on Isaiah after spending half-an-hour with him.”

From the Interscholastic League’s perspective, seeing so many schools heed the call to brighten Isaiah Hazard’s trying days shows a level of commitment that goes beyond the daily grind of practice.

“I am very proud to see the response of the high school football community and the way the teams have rallied around Isaiah in his time of need,” said RIIL Assistant Executive Director Michael Lunney. “Our student-athletes need to appreciate how precious life is and to realize that it’s important to be there for each other during difficult times. Isaiah will remain in our thoughts as he continues his recovery.”

Another example of rallying for this worthwhile cause will take place on Saturday, Nov. 3 when the North Kingstown Jaguars flag football division takes on the Chariho Cowboys.

The game will be streamed live so that Hazard can see his teammates/friends in action while watching from the Boston rehab facility he’s now in.

The Jaguars would like to pack the jamboree stands and show support for Isaiah. If you would like to attend the game it is scheduled for2:00pm at 4540 South County Trail, Chariho, RI.