Russell Athletic has opened applications for the fifth-annual “Fight Like Dylan Award”, honoring high school sports teams that have demonstrated perseverance. One team will be selected to receive a $50,000 grant in athletic apparel and sports equipment in early December, and will be honored during an on-field presentation at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando on December 29th.
The award is named for Dylan Rebeor, a Tennessee high school student and football player for the Columbia Lions.
In the middle of his sophomore year, Dylan began to experience bloating and back pain. An initial diagnosis of appendicitis turned out to be something much worse; Dylan had colon cancer and his prognosis was likely terminal. As he began treatment and chemotherapy, his biggest concern remained his Lions football team.
By the fall, Dylan’s situation grew worse and the Nashville Make-A-Wish Foundation came to Dylan to ask him for his final wish. His answer was simple: new uniforms and equipment for the Columbia Lions. Dylan’s wish became reality.
Dylan continued to attend team practices and games, and served as an honorary captain when the team played in the state semifinal game. “As each game got bigger, Dylan’s significance to our team got even bigger,” his coach, Vance Belew, said. Dylan never quit on his teammates.
The Columbia Lions advanced and prepared to play in the state championship game on December 3, 2010. That morning, Dylan’s bout with cancer came to an end. Eric Belew, a team captain and close friend of Rebeor’s, commanded his team to “Do what Dylan would do. Fight until that clock hits zero. Show everybody the power of Dylan.” Columbia went on to win the state championship.
Five years later, Russell Athletic continues to honor Dylan’s spirit with the “Fight Like Dylan Award” for a high school team that rose above adversity. Expanding on Dylan’s initial wish for the Columbia Lions, the award celebrates other teams that face adversity and turn it into a powerful story of success through teamwork.
A panel of judges led by former NFL Head Coach Tony Dungy will select this year’s recipient, who will receive a $50,000 grant in athletic apparel and sports equipment for their school. “This is truly a program that is near and dear to my heart,” said Dungy. “I am so proud to partner with Russell Athletic, Dylan’s family, and the previous recipients to celebrate these great stories of teams coming together to overcome tragedy and hardship.” Heather Rebeor, Dylan’s mother, and representatives from other recipients will also be involved in the selection process.
Anyone connected to a high school — players, coaches, parents, fans or school administrators — can apply at www.fightlikedylan.org and share how their team utilized teamwork to accomplish team goals or overcame challenging obstacles to achieve success in the community through sports.