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Teammates And Friends Rally For Gunnar Burns

Students Signed Notes, Lit Candles In Gunnar's Honor
Friends, teammates and classmates of Gunnar Burns gather in his honor in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
“Coach, at least there are no baddies here.”
 
His friends will be the first to tell you…Gunnar Burns always protects the vibe.
 
The James Monroe High School junior and varsity lacrosse player kept things light with coaches and teammates even while lying injured on the turf at Hanover High School, where he injured his neck in a game on Tuesday evening.
 
Those same coaches and teammates gathered with Gunnar’s classmates, teachers and lacrosse teams at Maury Stadium on Friday evening for his Rally For Recovery. Notes of support and encouragement were stickied to a “Dear Gunnar” banner, with many reading “#gunnerstrong” and “#TCG” or “Tough City Gunnar / Gunna.” The event, organized by school staff, took place as Gunnar was entering his second surgery at VCU Hospital.
 
His injury, described as an accidental collision with the chest of another player, was unlike anything James Monroe High School lacrosse coach Karson Hastings had encountered in his 15 year career.
 
“I had never expected anything like that to ever happen.”
 
But even a traumatic injury wasn’t enough to stop Gunnar’s positivity.
 
“’Man, good thing there’s no girls here, because this would be really embarrassing,’” he remembers Gunnar joking shortly after the injury. Hastings was happy to hear the wise cracks.
 
“Thank goodness, because I was a wreck out there.”
 
Tyler Houston, Gunnar’s former coach at True Lacrosse, a local youth travel program, remembered meeting an energetic and versatile player that could fill in wherever his team needed.
 
“The glue guy is the person who makes up for everyone else’s mistakes,” said Tyler Houston, “Gunnar is a glue guy.”
 
Gunnar’s teammates spoke about the good times away from the field, from throwing parties to Gunnar’s affinity for taking photos of his friends. They reminded everyone that Gunnar would want everyone to stay positive and to not treat him any differently.
 
Gunnar’s mother, Leslie Burns, addressed spectators wearing her son’s jersey and flanked by teammates Jack Billingsley and Jeb Brough. She became emotional describing the impact of the previous 72 hours on her family.
 
“All we need right now is prayers for his strong recovery, because it’s going to be a long haul.”
 
Burns, who is currently alternating 24-hour shifts by her son’s side with her husband, was grateful for the show of support from the school and community.
 
“They always say it takes a village to raise a child, and this is the village. They’ve always been there for us and they’ll always be there for us. This is going to be key to his recovery.”
 
Two prayers were also read during Friday’s rally; one delivered by Delegate Joshua Cole and the other from the Haudeosaunee (now Iroquois) tribe, read by Gunnar’s teammate Lowell Bertolet.
 
The event concluded with a candle lighting.
 
Gunnar is currently recovering from his second procedure in VCU Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. Donations for his recovery can be made at https://gofund.me/4c3149bf.
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