BUHLER, Kan.--- On January 10th, Buhler High School student Raiden Stewart was driving home from school when he lost control of his truck. It caused his pickup to roll several times and left him paralyzed from the chest down.
Raiden Stewart didn’t play basketball. In fact he played football and wrestled. But on Friiday night the Crusaders basketball team will be taking the court for Raiden.
“Every year we do a pink out night and all the money goes towards breast cancer awareness so we decided we were going to combine the two,” said classmate Reed Scott.
‘Rally for Raiden’ shirts were made to raise money for Stewart’s medical bills but the Crusaders boys basketball coach, Ryan Swanson, reached out to his fellow coaches in Augusta to increase fundraising. And the response was even bigger than he hoped.
“When I looked at the schedule and saw we play Augusta, I thought two things," said Swanson. "One, that’s going to be a big game because Augusta has such a good program. Coach Sims is a great guy and I figured he’d want to do what he could do to help.”
Swanson also reached out to his long-time friend and assistant wrestling coach at Augusta, JD Hand. "He thought that our basketball team would want to participate and realized that the wrestling team was going to be participating against Buhler in a few weeks from then," said Hand. "We decided to get the wrestlers and fans and their parents involved as well.”
It might seem like an odd paring with nearly an hour and a half drive between these two schools but the Orioles say they’re more than happy to help.
“We’ve competed against Buhler in every sport for a long time and these kids know each other, they’ve seen each other so much through the years,” said Hand.
Augusta wrestler, Jaden Laing said, “It really just puts it all into perspective because he didn’t know whatever practice he had before, was going to be his last. Now he’s not going to be able to likely wrestle again.”
“Here we’ve got a kid, one of our own who can’t walk," said Swanson. "We made some gray shirts with their logo on it, we have pink shirts with our logo. ‘It’s more than a game,’ is what’s on the shirt.”
“They’re going to wear their 'Rally for Raiden' shirts also for warm-ups and we are, so it’s just going to be an emotional night. The whole community’s probably going to show out,” said Scott.
Nearly 700 shirts have been sold and over 23 thousand dollars raised for Raiden Stewart’s recovery. Family and friends have set up a GoFundMe to help with expenses.