INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 28, 2011, 03:56 PM

Basketball rivals unite for Zach Gabbard

Zach's story continues to touch the lives of his teammates, fellow students, and parents, even people he's never met. That couldn't be more evident than at tonight's Perham Pelican Rapids basketball game, a night of unity.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

Pelican Rapids, Minn. (WDAY TV) - The true meaning of sportsmanship and community shined brightly in Pelican Rapids tonight. A region is rallying around a Perham player who collapsed during a basketball last week.

Tonight we learned 17-year old Zach Gabbard had emergency heart surgery at the University of Minnesota early this morning. It's his second heart surgery. His family says the surgery was successful and Zach's vital signs are stable.

He is still in critical condition, and heavily sedated. Zach's story continues to touch the lives of his teammates, fellow students, and parents, even people he's never met. That couldn't be more evident than at tonight's Perham Pelican Rapids basketball game, a night of unity.

Two teams, bitter rivals, but tonight you wouldn't know it. Lisa Forsgren always cheers on her son at Pelican Rapids basketball games, but tonight her thoughts aren't just on him. Instead they are on rival Perham player, Zach Gabbard.

“It just breaks your heart.”

It's hard to even find Forsgren in the large crowd. She's on the Pelican side, but who can tell by all the One Clap For Zach shirts.

“Kind of stops you in your tracks. It makes you realize how lucky you are and how things can change on a dime.”

Karmen Bruhn has taken on a new mission. Besides being a basketball mother, she calls herself Zach's other mom. Bruhn is manning the t-shirt stand. So far, about 700 have been sold.

“It is so comforting to see that they are with us on this journey that we're taking right now for Zach and they really do support us. It isn't about the game. It's about being a family.”

A tight knit group, these small town fans are.

“A lot of people have come together in the whole community, state. It is amazing.”

So many people are rooting on Zach. He may not be here in person, but Zach definitely hasn't left the minds of his teammates or opponents. They are wearing yellow ribbons on their shoes in his honor.

“Just thinking about his family and people he knows.”

A night of mixed emotions, the fact such rivals are putting aside their differences and uniting off the court for one common cause.

“Their hearts have to be heavy and that they're playing for their friend, their teammate. In the end we're all parents, we're all teammates, we're all friends.”

An impressive night, Pelican Rapids had a donation jar at the front door and split the pot effort, which raised 900 dollars for Zach. If you'd like to help Zach or get a shirt, go to www.oneclapforZach.com.

Tomorrow, Perham plays its first home game after Zach's collapse.

Tags: