White Ribbons: NFL player joins Davie High students in memory of Col. Hales

Published 7:09 am Monday, August 7, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Davie’s football team led a community service project to raise awareness for lung cancer last week.

Chris Draft, a 12-year NFL veteran and international lung cancer advocate for The White Ribbon Project, was the featured speaker at Davie’s team camp on July 28.

Draft, 47, played linebacker from 1998-2009 for Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Carolina, St. Louis and Buffalo.

Carter Helton, a senior member of the Davie football team, is the grandson of Col. Terry L. Hales, a former Davie High teacher, school board member and five-year lung cancer survivor.

Col. Hales was treated for his lung cancer at Atrium Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2018 before he died in April.

Helton has been connected with Draft since last fall when he and his father Chad Helton participated in a White Ribbon Build with Draft at a UNC football game tailgate in September.

With the passing of his grandfather in April, Carter wanted to continue to spread awareness of lung cancer and had the idea to include his teammates and high school shop class in building white ribbons.

Several members of the football team, coaches and the shop class worked with Draft in May to build 16 ribbons, and  they presented them on June 16 to lung cancer survivors and medical staff that cared for Hales.

The ribbons that Davie’s football team and shop class built at team camp will be presented to lung cancer survivors and medical staff at Novant Health Cancer Institute and Atrium Wake Forest Baptist.

“(Davie coach Tim Devericks) made a good point to me that this project was great for multiple reasons,” Chad Helton said. “The team got to do a community service project to help others while doing a team building project. They got to interact and hear from a former NFL player whose wife passed from lung cancer at the age of 37 a month after they got married. And they learned a skill of sanding/painting.

“Mr. (Matthew) Cartner and his shop class cut out all 32 of these ribbons and the football team painted and sanded the ribbons. The overall goal of the White Ribbon Project is to change the face of lung cancer through love and support for all lung cancer survivors.”

Devericks, Carter Helton, his brother Tate Helton and several other football players attended the school board meeting on Aug. 1, which was World Lung Cancer Day, and presented a ribbon to the board in memory of Hales.

“This movement to change the face of lung cancer has become my passion,” Carter Helton said. “I have found my purpose, and without passion you can’t find purpose.”

If someone is a lung cancer survivor, a caregiver, a lung cancer advocate or wants to become one and would like a white ribbon of their own, contact Chad Helton at chelton75@gmail.com.