Tipton teen tragedy draws community together

Democrat photo / David A. Wilson
People of all ages line the highway in a final vigil for Chad Stover on the day he died.

Democrat photo / David A. Wilson People of all ages line the highway in a final vigil for Chad Stover on the day he died. Photo by David Wilson.

— By DAVID A. WILSON

Democrat Staff

Friends and family of Chad Stover, Tipton Cardinal football player #18, joined in a vigil beginning at 5 p.m. along Highway 50 in Tipton Thursday, Nov. 14, the day of his death.

When the Tipton High School junior took a hit throwing him to the ground at a game with Sacred Heart, Sedalia, on Halloween night, no one could have predicted the outcome.

When Tipton High School junior Chad Stover collapsed during the Cardinals’ district game against Sacred Heart at Sedalia Oct. 31, the game stopped with six minutes left to play, and in some ways everything else seemed to stop, too. Stover died two weeks later.

The tragedy of the young man, who went into a deep coma only eight days before his 17th birthday, became the center of attention for the community of Tipton, drawing the best from the young man's family, friends, school, town, county, state and beyond.

They were brought together with the single statement — "Pray for Chad." Found not only on placards, signs and t-shirts, the request was spread via Facebook and other social media sites. Cardinal football red ribbons showed up everywhere, not just in Tipton, as the affected community widened. The California football team wore red shirts and prominently displayed Chad's #18 during its next game. A large "18" was put on the California Pintos field. Other teams around the state followed suit with red shirts and a prominent display of his number. One daycare in California even had a "Pray for Chad" day with all the youngsters wearing red shirts and paper football helmets decorated with #18.

Following the incident in Sedalia, he was transported to University Hospital, Columbia. Information from medical personnel indicated he had brain damage because of a long period without oxygen.

The Tipton community came together on the day he died for a final vigil. Highway 50, east of the traffic light, was lined with signs, a number of red shirts, and the prominent display of the number 18.

"There is a lot of things we can learn from such a young man who was only 17 years old," said one friend of the family, Justin Huff. "He did everything to the fullest and worked very hard for everything he achieved."

Huff commented that friends, family and the city appreciated the support of the surrounding communities, including California and Sedalia.

"People don't really know how much their words mean," he said. "The smallest things mean the most to everyone."

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