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MARION COUNTY, Ga. (WTVM) - Football season is finally here, but for one county, this year just means that much more. The Marion County Eagles are grieving the loss of two of their own after tragedy struck three days apart this summer.
On June 7, rising senior Anthony Bair died in a vehicle accident. He was a dedicated member of the marching band and the federal aviation administration. He grew up playing all sports, including football and baseball.
Then on June 10, rising freshman Tyrek Weaver drowned at Lake Blackshear. He was also well-rounded in sports, running track and playing football.
To honor the two this year, the football team will wear stickers for every game. Senior kicker Cecil Young says he’s appreciated how the community has rallied behind them.
“The students, the faculty, the people living in our community, they’ve come to support us,” he said. And they even went in and put a memorial in the hallway of the high school for Anthony and Tyrek.
Cross country coach Michelle Harris also honored the students in the school district’s annual 5k and 1-mile fun run.
“After those boys died, I decided to call their parents and run it by them if we did it in memory of their kids and they were absolutely thrilled,” she explained. “And on the shirts, we added on there, ‘In Loving Memory of Anthony Bair and Tyrek Weaver.’”
Harris also said Anthony’s mom, Malinda Bair, and Tyrek’s mom, Britteney Weaver, met for the first time at the event.
“We got pictures of them hugging, embracing, crying, and laughing,” she said. “It was an amazing night for all of us, but especially for those families, because they want to know our kids will never be forgotten.”
Malinda adds that meeting Britteney was a “great honor.”
“We bonded and she told me, ‘we’re going to be strong today because this is for our boys. It’s going to be a great day.’ And it was a great day,” she explained. "
Tyrek’s 8th grade football and track coach, Quesz Kelley, remembers Tyrek as a hard worker and full of personality.
“It’s just a great thing, when the community comes out, and shows love to the families, and especially Tyrek,” he said. “He changed my life a lot, the way he interacts with his teammates, he’s going to be truly missed here.”
Anthony’s sister, Hannah, recently changed her jersey number to 17 to honor the age her brother passed. Frank and Malinda Bair say they can’t wait for Anthony to hear her walk-out song, as it was one of Anthony’s favorite songs.
The family says the helmet stickers were a sweet surprise.
“We’ve always been big supporters of the football team,” Malinda Bair said. “I’ve been there on the sidelines with them all, and Anthony being in the band, supporting them, cheering, and getting them pumped up. It was breathtaking and a big surprise, very heartwarming and heartfelt, and we’re very very honored.
The football team says Anthony and Tyrek will live on forever.
“They’re with us everywhere we go,” Jayden Richardson said. “All the away games, all the home games. We’ll just carry their weight everywhere we go.”
The marching band will also honor Anthony this year by placing airplane pins on their uniforms.
Malinda comments on the support:
“When tragedy strikes, it’s great to know that your school, your community, everyone comes together to support and to keep their memories alive. It’s been wonderful. I hope this never happens to anyone else, but if it does, support them, because it makes a big difference and helps out a lot.”
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