Fans Packed Gym with Purple for "Just Drew It"

By Chris Earl, Reporter

Cedar Rapids Kennedy student section is a sea of purple at the basketball double-header against Cedar Rapids Washington in honor of Kennedy sophomore Drew Wall at the girls' basketball game between Washington and Kennedy on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, in Cedar Rapids. Wall died last month after a five-year battle with cancer, and proceeds of the shirt sales will benefit his family. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Liz Blood

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - For five years, Drew Wall battled a bone cancer that would destroy his body, bit by bit, cell by cell.

Yet friends and family of the 16-year-old Cedar Rapids Kennedy sophomore maintained that his positive nature and fighting spirit remain the hallmarks of a legacy.

On Friday night, the Kennedy gym was packed with purple. Purple shirts with the slogan "Just Drew It", a nod to a young man forced to grow up way too soon.

The Kennedy basketball teams hosting the Warriors of Cedar Rapids Washington, a rivalry of the highest order. Rather than the usual green and gold for Kennedy with the opposing red and blue for Washington, thousands paid for the $10 shirt, giving the air a purple hue and Drew was on the minds of so many.

Diagnosed with the cancer at age eleven, Drew Wall grew up with the disease. Last month, in his final hours on November 26, 2012, Drew's family took him from the hospital.

They took him home where, three hours later, he passed away, surrounded by those who walked the tragic but often inspiring journey with him.

Parents Doug and Robin Wall and brother Adam Wall were honored between the games at Friday night's double header. Doug Wall thanks all of the people who came out. He spoke about his son being a private person and would think all of this attention as unnecessary.

Rather than a moment of silence for Drew, the crowd participated in a group chant to "Just...Drew....It".

Years ago, the cancer claimed his right leg. Yet Drew still swung his clubs on the Cougar golf team. Junior and teammate Quinn Jamrok remembered a moment during a state qualifying meet when Drew's prosthetic leg was coming apart after a day on the course.

"(Drew) comes in and he's like, 'Coach, my leg is falling off," said Jamrok with a smile. "He wanted to keep playing and he's like 'Coach, you got a wrench?' So we got him a wrench and they tightened his leg back on and he kept playing.

That is the spirit Drew Wall offered to those around him and the final salute on Friday night for a boy who would not give up even as his body, eventually, gave out.

"It's overwhelming," said Doug Wall as he took in the sea of purple. "The community, as a whole, has come together. People we don't even know. Both sides of the gym. Both teams, all over town, the Corridor, Eastern Iowa with the support and the love and it has been tremendous. We can't thank people enough for what they are doing."

Kennedy High School Activities Director Aaron Stecker said, during the ceremony, that 2,500 of the purple "Just Drew It" shirts have been sold. The proceeds will help the family with the sizable treatment expenses over the past five years.

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