Monday, December 17, 2012
I've said plenty of times I'm not really a fan of kids. However, Rex Fleming would be the exception to my rule. He may be one of the strongest kids I've ever met. And for the last two years he had been battling brain cancer. Everyone around town seemed to know who Rex was and about his situation, the Abilene High football team and coach Steve Warren had pretty much adopted him as well as the Abilene Christian University football team, where is father is the sports information director.
On his 10th birthday, in October, he was at the Abilene High practice, like he would often do. I was there shooting practice for another assignment but saw that Rex was there and coach Warren let him give the team a pep talk before practice and he hung around with Warren the whole time. I grabbed a few shots and emailed them to his dad, not thinking much about it, I'd do that for any of my friends or coworkers.
Not long after I saw Rex at practice I read on his father's Facebook page that he went back for a checkup and found out the tumor in his head hadn't shrunk. They were giving him only a few more months to live. I can't imagine how devastating it must have felt for his family. But looking and talking to Rex, you'd never know, the kid was never without a smile on his face. Only occasionally, would he even complain about the headaches he had.
On Nov. 3 for ACU's football game against West Alabama, they let Rex toss the coin before the game, he also got to make the call for ACU (he won the toss) and call the first play of the game. The call was the same call he always makes "go deep."And it worked out, ACU had a big play. This time I had shot the photos for a story we were doing about Rex. Not long after that, Rex had taken a turn for the worse, and his time was looking a lot more limited. With his parents' blessing we ended up running the story in the newspaper the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Sadly, that same night that the story ran, he passed away. Something I didn't know, was before he went in for his brain surgery, he told his dad, "I'll live to tell the story," something his dad wrote on a napkin and always kept with him. Rex did just what he said he'd do, he lived to tell the story and touched plenty of people's lives in the process. Rest in Peace Rex.