Friends and teammates of a teenage shark attack survivor were so inspired by his strength they played their Friday night flag football games in his honor.
Keane Webre-Hayes, 13, was bitten by a shark last Saturday morning at Beacon’s Beach in Encinitas. He told his mom that the first thing he wanted to do when he got out of the hospital was get back to doing the things he loves, like playing sports and being in the water.
His friends with the Friday Night Lights Flag Football League know he’s not quite ready to take the field yet, so they dedicated their games at Poinsettia Park in Carlsbad to him and also collected cards and donations to help him during his recovery.
As the news of the attack unfolded Saturday and in the following days, the San Diego community found out more and more about Keane and rallied behind him. Photos of the teen released to the media by his family put a face to the fighter everyone was reading and hearing about in the news.
One of those photos featured Keane in his Friday Night Lights (FNL) jersey.
“When that picture went out of that boy, Keane, wearing his flag football jersey, that humanized it to everyone around here. That could have been anybody,” FNL co-commissioner Paul Publico told NBC 7.
As soon as the FNL community knew Keane was one of their own, concerns turned into a desire to help.
“I think it is really about the community welling up in support. Everywhere you go, no matter what social media you are on, you see people sharing this story. You see people actively participating to try and help, trying to be a support system for this family,” Publico said.
Publico said the fundraiser was organized to help Keane’s family with medical expenses, but it also gave his friends and fellow competitors inspired by his strength a chance to write him a letter to let him know they’re in his corner.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help with Keane's medical bills.
The shark that bit a 13-year-old boy was most likely a Great White Shark, experts said. Rady Children’s Hospital Chief of Pediatric Surgery, Dr. Tim Fairbanks, said that Keane has a long road to recovery in front of him.
He was released from the hospital on Thursday.