By Jonathan Deal
Kevin Reynolds won’t be running today at the Limestone County Invitational at Blue Springs. That doesn’t mean he won’t be helping his team win.
Reynolds will be at a Birmingham hospital preparing for brain surgery.
Some team members will wear ribbons in honor of Reynolds, while others wear T-shirts that read, “Running for Kevin.”
“He’s been running with us since the summer,” Athens cross-country coach Eli Ballard said. “He was here every morning. I remember going home and telling my wife what an outstanding young man he was. He’s quiet, polite, truly an inspiring person.”
Shortly after Reynolds began running for Athens, the freshman received some bad news following an MRI. Reynolds first noticed the problem in January when he had trouble seeing the blackboard and went to see a specialist. The MRI revealed a cyst on his brain.
“It was out of nowhere,” said Ross Pate, one of Reynolds friends. “The day before we were hanging out, getting our schedule and the next day finding out he’s got a brain tumor. He’s dealt with it pretty well. He doesn’t talk about it much.”
Pate will wear a shirt honoring Reynolds at Thursday’s race, which serves as the county championship for Limestone County. Pate said Reynolds will serve as motivation for the rest of the team today.
Since Reynolds only recently learned about his diagnosis, he has run with the team in three previous races this season, helping Athens to a fifth-place finish at the Randolph Invitational last week. In addition to cross-country, Reynolds said he hopes to play soccer at Athens, just not this year.
“I’ll have to quit cross-country after the surgery,” Reynolds said. “I’m going to try and run every year after that. I’m just going to try to get better every year.”
Although Reynolds will not be able run with his team again this year, the AHS freshman said doctors have told him they expect a full recovery.
“They said they might not be able to get rid of all of it, but they could get rid of most of it,” Reynolds said. “If they can’t get rid of all of it, I’ll probably have to have this done another 10 years down the road.”
Races start at 4 this afternoon with the varsity boys race at 5:30. As his teammates cross the finish line in Clements this afternoon, the Athens freshman will not be forgotten.