Lorimer Arendse is in the fight of his life. The Grand Prairie High School principal, a non-smoker, diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. But at a Friday night football game against the school’s cross-town rival, he found out it’s a fight he’s definitely not in alone.
Anytime the Grand Prairie Gophers take on the South Grand Prairie Warriors, the Gophers call it the “Beat South Game.” This time both sides agreed that instead they’d call it “Beat Cancer.”
“We’re going to fight on the field. Those guys are going to fight their hearts out,” South Grand Prairie principal Donna Grant said of the rival football teams. "But the other fight is against cancer.”
Proceeds from sales of some of the concessions would go to Lorimer Arendse’s medical expenses and to those of others fighting cancer. “Better Together” was the slogan on hundreds of fundraising t-shirts worn by the crowd proclaiming that when it comes to cancer, both schools are on the same cancer-fighting team.
And the surprise visitor at this game, Arendse himself, taking a break from chemotherapy treatments to attend the game held in his honor, to greet students and faculty, to show them that he’s still fighting.
“The kids are together on this,” he told WFAA. “And that’s been our main goal is to get the kids, the community, involved in standing together.”
“Because there’s a victory tonight one way or another,” his friend and “rival” principal Donna Grant said while seated next to him in those same matching t-shirts. “And that’s raising money to fight cancer.”
And when cancer survivors were honored on the field before the start of the game, Lorimer Arendse was with them. He stood hand in hand with his wife and arm-in-arm with the South Grand Prairie High School principal. Their message of togetherness, kindness, and a common fight was played on the video scoreboard. And the rest of his message is on the back of every one of those matching t-shirts. His most common quote: “I may have cancer but cancer doesn’t have me”
“I say it to everyone I meet. Because that’s what I believe," he said.
And on this Friday night, he can believe that everyone is in the fight with him, even the opposing team. And that a life lesson is playing out on both sides of the field.
“Yes, we’re cross-town rivals. But I would expect Ms. Grant to say the same thing of our kids. We want the best for kids and that is truly from the heart," he said.
And as he stood on the field singing the Grand Prairie fight song, he showed his kids his heart, showed his kids his fight, showed them that he’s living proof that an opponent like cancer is best tackled when everyone is fighting it together.
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