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Bleeding for a teammate

Canyon will hold blood drive for cancer-stricken football player today

Posted: August 28, 2008 12:53 p.m.
Updated: October 29, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Canyon High will host a blood drive today for senior football kicker Nate Sparks.

Sparks was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, or AML, in July.

AML is a fast growing cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

The blood drive will be held from 8 a.m to 2 p.m. in Canyon's gym with Kaiser staff on hand.

On Monday, 40 varsity football players and students participated in a blood donation at Kaiser Permanente in Woodland Hills for Sparks who has been requiring almost two pints of blood and platelets on a daily basis.

Sparks is the youngest of six siblings to graduate from Canyon and has played football for the Cowboys all four years under coach Chris Varner.

"He would have done excellent this season, and to have it pulled away from him like that is very unfortunate., Varner said.

Sparks is undergoing intensive chemotherapy treatment in the hospital's intensive care unit.

The 5-foot-10 kicker, known by friends to be a jokester, is still keeping his sense of humor through his treatment.

"He's still cracking jokes," said friend and Canyon football team manager Meghan Patterson.

Patterson said it's been hard seeing her friend battle his illness but she remains optimistic.

"We just have to let him know that he'll be OK. It's definitely been difficult though." Patterson said.

Sparks is also apart of the Canyon track and field team and competes in the high jump event. He is ranked amongst the top 10 jumpers in Cowboys history.

Sparks was also apart of Canyon's volleyball team during his freshman year.


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