Earlier this month on a Saturday, it was busier than usual at the Warrenton Chick-fil-a. At any given time there were dozens of people milling around; the line to get a chicken sandwich was out the door, and multiple high school bands were playing next door under the BB&T bank tellers.
What brings all of these people together? Owen “The Brain Tumor Trooper” Deavers. Deavers was only four years old when he was diagnosed with a rare type of brain tumor known as craniopharyngioma. This tumor is found in roughly 120 children per year, and many of them are sent to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where Deavers stayed for months after his diagnosis.
This story hits home with the Warrenton community because both of the Trooper’s parents are teachers: Robert Deavers is a chemistry teacher at Fauquier High School and Elisabeth Deavers is the band director at Kettle Run High School. Both of them are cherished at their respective schools; so much so that Fauquier’s band director, Andrew Paul, began talks of a fundraiser.
“This is all Mr. Paul,” Mr. Deavers said. “He said they were going to try to do something last spring at Carousel and it got rained out…. So they finally just moved it to now–in the fall, and that’s when he got ahold of Mr. Lombardo. He’s the director at Liberty. They both decided that they would come, take part, and do the music.”
On the day of the event, many people, such as FHS Steel Pan member and Senior Gage Russell, did not expect the turnout to be that large. Luckily, they were pleasantly surprised. Even though the actual concert was held under the bank tellers of BB&T, there was still a considerable amount of people.
“I expected it to be at Chick-fil-a, but we found out later that it would be at BB&T, which is beside Chick-fil-a,” Russell said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, nobody’s going to show up.’ Ten or fifteen minutes after that, people and more people started piling in: friends that I invited and teachers and staff of the school.”
Mr. Deavers was also astonished at the amount of people that showed up to support his son. He claimed that at any given time, there were at least one-hundred people milling around, not including the kids performing.
“We had people from every part,” Mr. Deavers said. “My wife’s at Kettle Run so we had Kettle Run people; we had Fauquier people; we had people from where I used to teach at Front Royal in Warren County; some of Owen’s classmates and teachers that taught Warrenton Baptist Tiny Tots were there. Just people from everywhere.”
The hundreds of people that arrived payed off–the fundraiser raised just shy of $6,000 for Owen’s medical costs. Around $3,000 of it came from the orders placed at Chick-fil-a, while the rest came from a donation drum placed by the door.
“That’s far beyond what we were expecting,” Mr. Deavers said. “I mean, anything that we get is great, but we never imagined that we would have that much.”
Owen’s story created a sense of community that many thought was sorely needed in Warrenton. It also brought three schools that are typically fierce rivals together for one common cause.
“I think often that we live in a county that’s divided by rivalry when it comes to schools: Fauquier, Liberty, and Kettle Run,” Russell said. “But we put all those things aside and put what really matters, and that’s our morals. When we put Owen first–Mr. Deavers’ son–and realized that this is a pretty big issue, we were able to come together.”
by joel alexander–student life editor