As Clear Creek High School’s seniors walk the stage at graduation May 30, among them will be one graduating senior whose future was thrown into uncertainty earlier this year after a sports injury turned tragic.
When an accident at football practice in December left Holden James with damage to his popliteal artery, knee joint and muscles that eventually led to the amputation of his leg the following month, the Clear Creek ISD community stepped up to help. James will walk at graduation with his peers and new prosthetic leg, Superintendent Eric Williams said May 21.
Williams, who began his tenure at CCISD in January, expressed gratitude and amazement for the way the community supported one of its own.
“What really impressed me is just the way in which the community wrapped its arms around the Holden family,” Williams said at a May 21 League City Chamber of Commerce event.
James, 18, had hoped to have his college paid for through a football scholarship, friends and community members said in a May 28 CCISD news release. He was a starting offensive lineman for the Clear Creek High School Wildcats, sporting the number 73, and he is known to his loved ones as a kind, respectful “gentle giant,” per the release and the family’s GoFundMe page. His mother works in the district’s nutrition department.
“This unfortunate accident has caused a physical disability that will affect him for the rest of his life,” GoFundMe organizer Emilia Ramirez wrote on the fundraiser page. “These unforeseen circumstances have put a financial and emotional strain on him and his loved ones. ... All he asks for is ‘a second chance.’ Life can seem very unfair at times, but there is always something that can be done.”
The community made sure something could be done: More than $91,000 has been raised for the James family, per the release.
The district’s Peer Assistance and Leadership Program worked with the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy to plan a flag football game between the League City police department and fire department. The “Battle for Holden” organizers recruited local businesses for donations, coordinated more than 100 volunteers outside of the PAL program and put together an event including t-shirt sales, raffles, concessions and a silent auction. This fundraiser brought in $30,000.
“The community’s support has been everything from the moment he got injured, and still the support is insane,” said PALs member and James’s fellow student Hailey Cook. “There’s no doubt that this event wouldn’t have been what it was without the whole community coming together [to help].”
Cook and Becki Bryan, teacher and PALs sponsor, said in the release that the group felt the need to lift James’s spirits after the injury ruined his dreams of being a college football athlete. Seeing the community and League City area get involved was gratifying, especially since COVID-19 has limited opportunities for large-scale events and fundraisers, they said.
Nearly $60,000 has been raised via GoFundMe as of May 28. The family plans to use the money for medical expenses and equipment, new housing accommodations, physical therapy and James’s college tuition, per the release.
The Clear Creek High School graduation ceremony starts at 8 p.m. May 30 and can be streamed live at www.ccisd.net.