Currituck Co. football team rallying around player with tumor, raising funds for state championships

Kayden “Bubby” Smith

CURRITUCK Co., N.C. - The Carolina Storm, a local little-league football team based in Currituck County, is on its way to the North Carolina American Youth Football State Championship in Charlotte after winning its district's championship.

Thanks to the community, the cost of the team's travel, lodging and food will be covered.

The team raised funds on Facebook to cover the team's expenses. The team's goal was to raise $4,000 -- and as of Tuesday morning, it was more than halfway there.

On Thursday, the fundraiser met its goal. The team says it's thankful for the community standing behind the kids.

"It says they support our kids, and we're thankful for that, because it's a lot more than football when you support your children," said Carolina Storm board member Elissa Copper.

"We have the support, the love of the community, the county behind us, we’re going to make it happen somehow," Jimmy Saunders, the team's coach, said.

This the first time the team made it to the state championships after defeating Greenville last weekend.

“It’s ecstatic, everybody out there is just full of football right now," Saunders said. "It’s really hard to explain how happy everybody is.”

Coach Saunders said there was one player who will be sitting out because of a brain tumor. His name is Kayden 'Bubby' Smith.

"Football is the best sport, in my opinion," Bubby, who is 9 years old, said.

Saunders said Bubby had concussion symptoms after their win against New Bern where he scored the winning touchdown. Bubby was taken to the hospital where doctors performed tests on him, and that’s when they found the tumor.

Bubby and Saunders said football helped find that tumor.

The team, however, "took it hard because he is an important part of the team," Saunders said. "It was tough for the kids to learn this lesson but it's something that they rallied behind it.”

“Football is a great sport and saved my life," Bubby said.

Bubby will still go with the team and cheer his teammates on from the sidelines -- and the community is rallying to help him, too. Barry's Walnut Island Restaurant in Grandy will donate 25 percent of its sales to him to help with his medical bills.

The team has not won a state championship yet. They said they hope this will be the first one.

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