Teen offers thumbs up from hospital bed after collapsing at game - KCTV5

Teen offers thumbs up from hospital bed after collapsing at game

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OLATHE, KS (KCTV) -

One week ago an Olathe East football player collapsed on the field and Friday night his teammates took the field for the first time since the scary incident.

Friday the hospital released an updated statement on James McGinnis' behalf and included with it a photo of him giving a thumbs up from his hospital bed.

"For the past couple of days, we've continued to see improvement in James' condition. Today marked a "FIRST DOWN" as James was able to breathe on his own for the first time since last Friday night. We think it's remarkable, given that tonight is FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS with his beloved football team, Olathe East."

"The attached picture shows James giving us a "thumbs up" this morning, something he was not able to do with his teammates last Friday night as he was taken off the football field."

"We know that we have a long road ahead and appreciate all of the love, prayers, and deep comfort for our family. As we head into the weekend, we ask that you #PrayForJames."

It's the most encouraging news so far about the senior linebacker, who went into emergency brain surgery the night of his collapse for his bleeding and swelling brain.

Olathe East took the win against Shawnee Mission South, 14-6, but the Hawks were thinking about much more than the numbers on the scoreboard.

Olathe East football players took the field wearing helmet decals that said "Play like a champion," No. 9 McGinnis' favorite saying.

Even people cheering for the other team were thinking of the Hawks' linebacker.

"I'm sure Olathe East has a lot of emotion going on. They are coming out to play for him and play as hard as they can to bring a win for him," said Dave Renfrew, a Shawnee Mission South parent.

Before warm ups, Hawks players gathered on the 50-yard line, down on one knee, vowing every play be for McGinnis.

Classmates showed up for support. Some sold T-shirts to raise money for his medical bills.

Assistant Superintendent of Olathe Public Schools Erin Dugan spoke on their behalf.

"Students have a need to do something. So they've invested energy in T-shirts and getting out and doing tweets, sending positive thoughts to the family," Dugan said.

McGinnis's injury has touched other area schools. Parents of other high school football players said it hits too close to home.

"It really puts chills through your spine when you see something happen to any kid," Renfrew said.

"Before every game, I pray that everyone walks off the field of their own power and we don't have injury and these kids can go on to live a happy productive life after football," Brenda Donnelly said.

McGinnis' injury occurred as Olathe East played defense in the third quarter of the game against Olathe South at the Olathe District Athletic Conference facility on 159th Street in Olathe. With 3:44 left in the third quarter, McGinnis was involved in a tackle. Following the play, he was running to the huddle, then motioned to come out and suddenly collapsed on the ground.

A real win for the Hawks will be seeing McGinnis out of the hospital working toward a full recovery.

Other area high schools are also showing their support. A video put together by Shawnee Mission West High shows students putting together a poster in honor of McGinnis and Olathe East.

Last season Shawnee Mission West lost their star football player, Andre Maloney, who suffered a stroke and died after scoring a 63-yard touchdown.

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