SISSETON, S.D. (KELO) — Two communities in northeastern South Dakota came together Thursday night for a basketball doubleheader, but what really brought fans closer goes beyond the basketball court.
At Sisseton High School, it looks like a regular night of basketball, but if you look again, you’ll notice the color orange.
For their FBLA project, sophomores Ruby Rice and Krista Langager planned “Strong Strand Night” to raise awareness and money for their classmate Josiah Strand. Strand is battling two different types of leukemia and has been in and out of Sanford Fargo since being diagnosed in November.
“We’ve been raising money since December and pulling all the community together and our whole FBLA chapter, it’s really been amazing. The whole community, this community and the Florence/Henry community have really pulled it all together and have made it possible for us to do,” Rice said.
They’ve been selling t-shirts and had a number of fundraisers planned for the game, too.
“We’re doing a 50/50 raffle, concessions, a bake sale where we’re selling root beer floats and baked goods, and all the proceeds go to him and his family to try and help him out as much as we can,” Langager said.
Strand is in band, and his teacher Tera McDonnell says orange was the theme all day.
“It’s wonderful to see everybody come together. I mean, the way the school came together today, I was just overwhelmed by seeing a sea of orange. It was great to see that,” McDonnell said.
And fans from both the Florence/Henry and Sisseton communities were encouraged to wear orange for the doubleheader basketball games.
“It’s been really fun to bring everybody together, and even more fun is bringing two communities together in that Florence/Henry has come tonight wearing orange and supporting this project as well,” FBLA advisor Missy DeSpeigler said.
At halftime of the first game, it was a moment that was bigger than basketball.
Students from both schools came to the court and presented a check for over $2,800 — an amount raised just by the Florence/Henry community all for the family. The moment brought Josiah’s mom, Jenn Saul, to tears.
“Nobody should fight this battle alone and that we’re all here for him. From the school, the community, outside communities and that everybody is here for him. It really means a lot,” Rice said.
Josiah’s mom says it’s been a roller coaster since the diagnosis and that he will be starting his third round of chemo on Monday. She added that the communities have been so supportive and she wasn’t expecting a night quite like this.
All together, they raised over $5,000 dollars Thursday.