The Forest Hills Eastern football team huddles at practice this week.
Nate Hurwitz's locker. FHE students have written tribute messages on it since his death.
ADA, Mich. (WZZM) - Forest Hills Eastern High School Friday night will host its first "Family, Friends and Heroes" football game when the Hawks host rival Forest Hills Northern. The game is intended to honor all those people who have made a difference in the lives of Forest Hills Eastern students.
The game has also taken on another meaning as members of the football team and students at the school pay respects to a former classmate.
16-year-old junior Nate Hurwtiz died in mid-September. Nate had been confined to a wheelchair since elementary school as a result of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. But his friends say there was not a more upbeat kid at school. And no one had a better smile.
"I don't remember ever seeing Nate without a smile," says junior Chris Cantu, a defensive lineman on the football team. "He was at our lunch table and he was at our Powder Puff practices and games. Every time I looked at him, even when I was sad, he would have that smile on."
Nate Hurwitz was a huge sports fan. A lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, Nate joined the West Michigan Miracle League board of directors in the spring to help the effort to build a $400,000 baseball field that is accessible for kids with disabilities.
Friday night's football game will raise money for the Miracle League in Nate's memory. Tony Comden, West Michigan Miracle League president, says already since Nate's death, 150 donations from 20 states totalling $150,000 have been made. Comden will be at the stadium Friday to share in the celebration of Nate Hurwitz.
"It's a great reflection of Nate's memory that the fellows on the football team decided to do this. It says a lot about their respect for him and their friendship with him. It's going to be a wonderful celebration that reflects all that is good with our community," says Comden.
The school is selling "Family, Friends and Heroes" tee-shirts for 15 dollars. The cost will include a ticket into the game.
Join WZZM's "13 On Your Sidelines" for coverage of the Forest Hills Northern-Forest Hills Eastern game Friday night at 11:15.
WZZM's Tom Clyde is a member of the board of directors for the West Michigan Miracle League.