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Many Thanks

Celebrating the life of Sharon Warner.

Jody+Jo+Mize%2C+Gina+Okerson%2C+Haley+Warner%2C+Barbie+Hansen%2C+and+Joelle+Mathews+all+stand+in+front+of+the+Pink+Heals+fire+truck+at+the+Pink+Out+game.+
Jody Jo Mize, Gina Okerson, Haley Warner, Barbie Hansen, and Joelle Mathews all stand in front of the Pink Heals fire truck at the Pink Out game.

Jody Jo Mize, Gina Okerson, Haley Warner, Barbie Hansen, and Joelle Mathews all stand in front of the Pink Heals fire truck at the Pink Out game.

Jody Jo Mize, Gina Okerson, Haley Warner, Barbie Hansen, and Joelle Mathews all stand in front of the Pink Heals fire truck at the Pink Out game.

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Where do I begin? I don’t think I could ever explain how much I appreciate what was done last Friday to honor my mom, Sharon Warner. In an attempt to show my love for Clovis High and the Clovis community I decided that I would tell my story as well as describe the amazing events that took place.

Mama lost her battle to breast cancer in July 2014 and my whole world was turned upside down. Losing a parent is not easy nor is it something you can prepare for; however, you have the ability to continue the legacies of those who have earned their wings as you remember them, honor them, and live for them.

Last Friday, I was able to bring my mom’s spirit to life in a special way. My mom’s birthday, October 7, coincidentally landed on Clovis High’s Pink Out for breast cancer awareness. I couldn’t have been more excited; it honestly  warmed my heart. Little did I know that Clovis High was going to do something so big for not only my mom, but for my dad and me as well.

Originally, my sister Rochelle and I had decided that we were going to design shirts to be worn to the game to represent our mom. What we didn’t know was that our shirts were going to turn into an order that amounted to 51 shirts! I had started a thread on Twitter with updates about the shirts and people I didn’t even know began to tune in and the love began.

Monday afternoon I received a text telling me that Clovis High wanted me to ride in on the Pink Heals fire truck before the game to honor my mom. A phone call followed on Thursday from our Activities Director, Stacy Lazzari, to explain that a small script about my mom was to be read as I rode out in front of thousands of Clovis football fans. To top it all off, I received a text from my freshman forensics teacher, Lou Standifer, who showed me that he had dyed his beard pink for my mom.

The overwhelming support my family was given is something I never could have imagined. Friday came and I was sitting on a roller coaster of emotions. From the start of the day I received nothing but love and support from everyone around me.

During the school day I was shown love from two school employees, specifically my CART teacher Patrick Beggs who had noticed that something was wrong and provided me with someone to talk to about the significance of the day and Clovis High Activities Secretary Patti Carpenter who provided me with a hug full of love and sincerity even though we did not know each other all that well.

With thousands of thoughts running through my head, I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I entered Lamonica Stadium. How will I hold up? Will I be able to keep my composure? I didn’t know.

Seeing Carpenter and head counselor Barbie Hansen at the gate answered my questions instantly. Their support showed me that yes, the night would be rough and there would be tears but it was going to be okay because I was loved. 

After walking into Merriman where the Pink Heals fire truck was waiting, I was yet again greeted with hugs, this time from Gina Okerson and Jody Jo Mize, two survivors near and dear to me, as well as Hansen and Clovis East math teacher Joelle Mathews who are also survivors of breast cancer.

While we waited by Alex, the Pink Heals fire truck, firemen from the Clovis Firefighting Association approached each of us, providing us with beautiful pink roses and heartfelt hugs. The hugs didn’t stop there as a giant group hug from the Clovis cheerleaders was close to follow. 

Soon after, it was go time. I climbed up to the top of the fire truck with Okerson and Mize to face the crowd. 

As football announcer and government teacher Tim Douglas read off what was to be said about the beautiful women beside me who kicked cancer’s butt, I couldn’t help but think about how amazing it was to be sitting there on a fire truck in front of thousands continuing my mom’s legacy.

I am truly fortunate to have such a supportive school. The Den, our student section, cheered as “Sharon Warner” rang throughout the stadium and it was the evidence of the love. I can’t explain what I felt in that moment. Students from within the Den, whether they knew me personally or not, cheered and stood with enthusiasm to honor the most important woman in my life. That alone means more to me than any of them will ever know.  It did not stop there; the Den’s love had not yet expired.

It’s typical of the Den to sing “Happy Birthday” to those celebrating on game day, but during last Friday’s game it took a different meaning. Den leaders Antonio Borjas and Zack Lowe — typically holding the Den’s sign that prompts cheers as well as entertains — led the singing of “Happy Birthday” to my mom. The whole student section sang as prompted and I was at a loss for words. I want to thank the Den from the bottom of my heart for helping me celebrate my beautiful mama’s birthday.

Last but certainly not least, I was surrounded by those wearing Mama’s shirts to end my night. I cannot thank you all enough for representing my mom that night and showing your love and support.

At this point I’ve said the words “thanks” and “love” in excessive amounts but if you were to get anything out of this story I would hope that you gain a sense of how much I appreciate this experience. I will cherish October 7, 2016 for many years to come. From the bottom of my heart: Thank you Cougars in the Den, Clovis High School staff, Cougars football fans, Fresno County Pink Heals, Clovis Firefighters Association, and many others in the Clovis community for making my mom’s birthday so special.

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