For more than half a century, that’s been the unifying creed of Gilmerites everywhere. Over the decades, it has bound our community together on autumn Friday nights, and followed us into our daily lives. It is the common fabric we use to weave an orange and black fabric around us, cloaking our differences in ethnicity, creed and socio-economic standing. It is something we can agree upon, as we express our encouragement and support for our sons and daughters. It is something that unites us in celebration and creates an unstoppable optimism when they are successful in their endeavors. And when we gather together on their behalf, it strengthens us as individuals, defines our community, and sends an undeniable message to anyone and everyone to see; we are ONE.
That lesson has not been lost on our children. As Gilmer Buckeyes, they are taught that the needs of the ONE outweigh their own selfish desires. They are taught that the weakest individual is the individual that needs the most help and encouragement, and they rally around them until that individual does his part for the team. They are taught that building character individually is their individual responsibility to the team and to each other. They have applied these important lessons, experienced success and learned the importance of humility. So it is no wonder how they have responded this year in support of one of their.
Josh Nelson is a Gilmer Buckeye, whose story is familiar to many Buckeye fans. He has certainly not had the average life of a normal 17 year old. Last year, Josh was a handsome and popular kid, a budding star on a championship football team, a tough and gritty player on the field, and a warm hearted, polite and kind young man off of it. I guess one could say that Josh Nelson has had what every kid wants and more…in this case, much more. Last year Josh discovered he also has leukemia. That news followed on the heels of his mother’s worsening condition with the same disease, with which she lost her battle early this year. This unimaginable fate could befall almost anyone at any time, and yet it happened to Josh, a young man who had the world at his feet, and one year later now carries the world on his shoulders. Josh has had many complications in battling his disease, the list of which is both too long and too horrific to name here. But despite the world throwing almost every life altering tragedy imaginable at him over the past year, he is still applying BUCKEYE lessons to the situation in his hospital bed. Be POSITIVE, have RESPECT for yourself and others, be INTENSE and never give up, and be DISCIPLINED in EVERYTHING you do. That’s P.R.I.D.E. That’s what Josh Nelson was taught, and that’s what he has practiced.
Being a Gilmer Buckeye, Josh Nelson is entitled to the strength of the ONE any time he needs it. And Josh needs it right now, today. As he said goodbye to his mother, his teammates were with him, supporting and encouraging him, carrying him when he was unable to carry himself. They have adopted his name and it is their motto for the upcoming season. “NELSON”- the origin of the word means “Son of the Champion”, you can hear it loud and in unison each and every time the Gilmer Buckeyes gather. This name unites our team, and I am calling it out loud now to unite the Army of Buckeyes. As a sign of a commitment to unselfishness, NO Gilmer Buckeye wears the #1 on their jersey and no Gilmer Buckeye wears their own name on the back of their jersey. That has been the tradition instated and enforced over the past six years, and has stood until today. Now, that jersey number is reserved for you, The Army of Buckeyes…and the name on the back reads, “NELSON”. It symbolizes our commitment and dedication to each other. ONE Army, ONE City, ONE P.R.I.D.E. We are from Gilmer, Texas, and we are ONE Army of BUCKEYES.
My challenge to you, the Army of Buckeyes is simple. Please pick up your jersey at Special Tees on Hwy 155 south, across from Upshur Rural Electric. (All proceeds to the Josh Nelson Fund to help offset medical bills and to pay for Josh’s future education.) Show up early to every game, wear your ONE jersey, and get ready to let Buckeye P.R.I.D.E. become part of you, as you become part of the ONE.
Author Unknown (Well, I know who he is, but he wishes to remain anonymous.)