Western Alamance shows support for football player diagnosed with leukemia

ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. -- As hundreds of people packed into the stands at Western Alamance High School Friday in one of the biggest match-ups of the year, one player stood out the most even though he couldn't be at the game.

"We really try and show our support to Mark because we really love him," said student Bia Davis.

Wearing orange shirts, headbands and hats, hundreds showed their support for 17-year-old Mark Wheeler.

Wheeler is a senior and a well-known football player at Western Alamance.

He was diagnosed with leukemia last month after coaches and family members noticed he had trouble breathing.

The color orange represents leukemia awareness.

"He's a warrior," said Wheeler's aunt Bernadette Kimrey. "He's a champion and we know that's he's going to do great."

Kimrey says the sea of orange and show of support is helping their family get through the tough time.

"It's overwhelming for me," Kimrey said. "The love and support that we have from the community."

The support was felt throughout the stands.

"I know that he can feel this all the way in the hospital," said Jessica Burris, who was wearing an orange shirt.

"I went to see him about a week ago and he's full of spirit," said Emogene Kernodle, a former teacher at Western Alamance.

Even fans of rival school Walter M. Williams High School put aside their differences and put on orange.

"It could happen to anybody," said Tara Elliott, a Williams High fan. "But, we're here to support him and support everybody that's out here playing."

Some students at the school have started selling orange wristbands to raise money for the teen's family.

The team's coach is also hosting a dinner to raise money for Wheeler's family.