MOUNT VERNON — Ever since Cam Butterbaugh was a kid, he learned from his dad, Jeff, about how to be successful and have fun.
Growing up, Jeff helped coach Cam and his friends throughout all of their activities, including basketball.
“From when my friends and I were able to play up until about sixth grade, he taught me about basketball, football, baseball and cooking,” said Cam, a junior.
Although Jeff helped Cam and his brother, Rylan, see the humorous, less serious parts of life, he also showed them how to keep fighting and be brave.
Jeff recently lost the hard-fought battle to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a nervous system disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The team chose to support Jeff and the Butterbaugh family by sewing a patch, initialed JB, on to their jerseys.
“The patches are just a symbol of the legacy he had, not just with Cam’s life, but the support he had on the team,” said senior guard Nick Leopold.
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After Jeff got sick, he still chose to be active in Cam’s basketball. He had a special spot, in the front row of the middle section on the home side, where he would sit during the games, and everyone around him quickly began to recognize that.
“Ever since last year, I would always just see him in his specific spot where he would sit during our games,” Leopold said, “and this patch reminds us that he is still with us.”
When he couldn’t come to games, he was able to livestream it so he could always watch.
Coach Ed Timm and a group of seniors made the choice at the beginning of the season to do something special for Cam by putting a patch on each jersey.
“I think it’s really cool how Coach Timm had that idea,” Cam said. “They look really good and it really means a lot to us.”
The Mustangs are 3-3 heading into Thursday’s game against Waverly-Shell Rock. During the first game of the season — a 43-32 win over Clear Creek Amana — Cam hit the game-winning shot.
“I told the guys that there is twice that I’ve felt that way on the basketball court: when the clock ran out and we won the state championship in 2012 and when he made that shot,” Timm said. “That’s how special it was.
“I believe this is all God’s plan, the fact that something bad can happen and God can always make something good.”