Duluth hockey rivals unite to support Denfeld student with cancerA teenage girl with cancer and a hockey game brought rival high schools together Thursday night.
By: Alysee Shelton, Duluth News Tribune
A teenage girl with cancer and a hockey game brought rival high schools together Thursday night.
“I think it is very kind that my school is supporting me,” Morgan Long said, “but it is even better to see schools around the Northland supporting me.”
Denfeld High School hosted a “whiteout” during the boys doubleheader at the Duluth Heritage Sports Center. Duluth East hosted Lakeville South, while the Hunters played visiting Duluth Marshall in the nightcap. The event was in honor of Morgan’s fight with brain cancer, with “whiteout” referring to fans, students and parents dressed in white T-shirts with blue writing spelling out “Morgan Long We Believe.”
“A couple of us thought we should do something nice,” said Debra Johnson, a Denfeld special education teacher. “We hatched the idea at Denfeld, then asked other schools to join. The students were onboard and spreading the word about the event. We even got local sponsors to cover the ‘Morgan Long’ banners and signs.”
Students chanted “We love Morgan” while waving signs in the air. Duluth Mayor Don Ness stopped by to proclaim Jan. 30 as “Morgan Long Day.”
“Everyone came out tonight to support Morgan, and it’s a beautiful thing,” Denfeld senior McKenzie Thomas said. “Morgan is a strong fighter. She is a true inspiration.”
Morgan, 16, has been battling the disease since she was 17 months old.
“We thought she had the flu, but it turned out to be cancer,” said Molly Long, Morgan’s mother. “As a parent, this journey has been extremely emotional and very stressful.”
Morgan is scheduled to have another brain surgery Wednesday. Despite this being her fifth brain tumor, she remains positive about the future.
“It has been difficult for me because there are long periods of time where I’ll be away from school, events and my friends,” she said. “However, I’m going to stay positive and keep pushing through it.”
Molly Long said she’s concerned with her daughter’s upcoming surgery but remains hopeful.
“The doctors don’t know how much more they can do,” she said. “We are trying so hard to be positive and live in the moment, but then a bomb of bad news will just drop on us. This journey has been a roller coaster.”
She said the family is truly grateful for the support they received over the years.
“People have helped our family on and off for 15 years,” Molly Long said. “Duluth has a lot of caring people who want you to know that they care; it is a real blessing.”
“I love how everyone came together for me,” Morgan said Thursday. “I will always cherish this day.”