BISMARCK, N.D. - Last Sunday, our community rallied behind St. Mary's basketball coach Brent DeKok to show their support in his fight against cancer.
All winter long, the West Region basketball teams compete for the title, but on Sunday night everyone was on the same squad facing one of life's most threatening opponents: cancer.
"The very first time we discussed what number we thought we would get, 200, will we get 300, would it be 400, and I think it was without a doubt we blew all expectations out of the water. It's a testament to the city, it's a testament to the state of North Dakota. When someone's struggling and something's going on, there are always people willing to stick their neck out," said Jordan Wilhelm, Bismarck Demons head coach.
In the beginning of the event, DeKok made a powerful message that resonated with everyone in attendance.
"Let the light that shines inside of you shine brighter than the light that shines on you and that's what I see through these other coaches, that they are here to support me they aren't just my rivals, they're not just my peers, they're not just the guys that I compete against, but they're ultimately my friends. My friends that are here to do this for me and it's hard to even put into words it really is," said DeKok.
St. Mary's senior Ben Schmidt played for DeKok throughout his battle and he says Dekok has been a positive and resilient person during this cancer fight.
"It's inspiring, you know, I mean you don't really realize how hard life is until you see someone like that. And then, you know, you just take a step back and you say ,you know, what I'm going through now isn't as bad as I thought it was, and then you push harder. And that's just so inspirational to our team and it's been great," said Schmidt.
The community packed the Legacy High School gym to show their support for DeKok and he could not be more thankful.
"I've said it so many times I'm blessed to be someone from Bismarck, North Dakota. I'm blessed to be from this state. And you just look around at all the different faces, and all the people I know, and people are taking time out of their day to come, and I just want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who's here or not here who are praying for me, who are supporting me, and are today beside me on this fight. Thank you," said DeKok,
If you would like to donate, there is a Brent DeKok benefit account set up at American Bank Center.