by Devin Lowrey
The 2013 home football season ended on a powerful note with a game that will be remembered for both the hard fought victory on the field (32-26 Wolves) and for the heartfelt, collective hopes of the team and crowd for a victory for Jon Apgar off the field.
In 2001, Arne Ferguson, now head coach for the WOU football team, recruited Apgar from Toledo High School to play linebacker. He played for Western from 2002 through 2005 and was known for being a good student and athlete with a work ethic that stood out on and off the field. After graduation, he went on to play arena football for a few years before playing for the Danube Dragons in NFL Europe for two years. After moving back to the United States, he married Megan. The two of them have recently expanded their family with the birth of their little girl, Addison. It would appear as though everything was falling in place for this young family.
Unfortunately, the Apgar family faced a devastating and unexpected blow over the summer when he was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer. If attitude and determination have anything to do with surviving cancer, Apgar’s friends would say that he has what it takes. He has been through two surgeries and is currently undergoing chemotherapy.
Daniel Sims, one of his best friends, former teammate and roommate from college, put together “Jon Apgar Day,” which took place before and during the final home game, on Saturday, Nov. 9. This event was a celebration (as stated by Ferguson) and a fundraiser to help with the extensive medical costs being incurred by the Apgar family. There were t-shirts with #51 (Jon’s college number) on them, donation boxes and raffle tickets.
“He’s a guy that you always really, really loved being on your team, you knew he would always have your back and was there for you,” said Sims. “He became a brother about as quickly as you met him.
The game was full of black shirts with Apgar’s number, orange bracelets saying either “no one fights alone” or “Team Apgar.” The players wore black uniforms with orange socks and orange bows on the back of their helmets (orange is the color for kidney cancer awareness). Apgar, accompanied by his wife, daughter, and an ICU nurse, came from Salem Hospital, where he is currently receiving care, to tailgate and watch the game. One of the most memorable moments occurred at the beginning of the game when a large group of people created a tunnel from the gate to the center of the field. Apgar, who is currently in a wheelchair, and his family came through the tunnel to the center of the field where he was presented with a signed ball and honored before the start of the game. A jersey with his number was hung on the track during the game.
It was clear to me after talking to friends, teammates, coaches, and acquaintances that Jon is the kind of friend you would want to have and a family member you would be proud to claim.
Sadly, Jon lost his battle with cancer on Saturday, December 7th, 2013. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest in peace, Jon.