NAZARETH, Pa. – The Lehigh Valley is rallying around a teenager who's been diagnosed with a blood cancer.
On Friday at Andrew S. Leh Stadium in Nazareth, two high school football teams helped to galvanize the community for a common cause.
Cade Lutz graduated from Nazareth Area High School in May 2021. Weeks ago, he was diagnosed with leukemia and actually began treatment on his 19th birthday.
As Bethlehem's Freedom Patriots faced off with the Nazareth Blue Eagles on the gridiron, a sea of orange shirts filled the stands.
"We just all need to support him," said Nicholas Foster, a senior at Nazareth Area High School. "He's family to us. He went to our school and he's family to us."
During the lead-up to Friday's game, both teams decided to switch their schools' themes for the game to orange — the color associated with leukemia awareness.
September is also Leukemia Awareness Month. According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 1.3 million Americans are living with or in remission from a blood cancer and someone is diagnosed about every three minutes.
"We decided that one community is better and bigger together, so we joined forces and here we are tonight, and as you can see, we've got orange all around us," said Amy Pidgeon. "In a world that seems really much divided, we are unified tonight."
Cross-town rivals, now teaming up to raise awareness and resources to help with medical expenses.
"Word spread pretty fast and we are such a close community that the community wanted to pull together to do something for the family," said Jim Pilla, a sixth grade math and science teacher at Nazareth Area Intermediate School. "They’re so involved around the community, so we thought this is the least we could do for them."
Friday night's display of support is just the beginning.
“You can reach out to our Nazareth booster club," Pidgeon said. "There's lots of different places that are collecting for the family. You can reach out to anyone at the Nazareth school district and they'd be able to point you in the right direction."
"It's bigger than football. It's bigger than school," said Pilla. "It's just truly community support."