FREEPORT, Fla. (WMBB) – The Freeport boys basketball team was dealt a blow this month as one of their key players, Jacob Becktel, was diagnosed with leukemia.
“One night I told my mom that I wanted to go to the ER, they told me my white blood cell county was really high, really high. From there on, it was downhill, definitely the biggest shock I’ve ever gone through, but all I can do is push through,” Becktel said.
Becktel was taken by helicopter to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, where he began his chemo treatment last week.
Freeport head basketball coach David Felix said it’s tough to lose a player like Becktel at this part in the season.
“He’s worked harder than anybody I’ve had here in nine years, he wants to be a jump shooter, he wants to dunk the basketball and he worked his butt off to do those two things and I think he will have the same work ethic at beating this leukemia,” Becktel said.
Even though the doctors think Becktel will make a full recovery, going through treatment and being away from his home isn’t easy for the senior.
“Honestly I’m just trying to keep my head up, basketball seems to keep me going right now, seeing the boys doing what they are doing and everything, makes me want to get through it so I can see them all at the end of this,” Becktel said.
The Freeport community has already come together for Becktel, setting up a GoFundMe to help with his medical expenses.
“Its nice to see everybody come together as a family. Honestly it means the world to me cause if I didn’t have anybody behind me I probably wouldn’t want to do this as much. I just want to get back home to everybody and the basketball team,” Becktel said.
Becktel said he’s continuing to support his team even if he’s almost 300 miles away and he has just one message for his teammates back home.
“Win districts for me. Because I’ve never won anything in basketball with the team and this is one thing I’ve wanted for the team is a district win because I believe it’s been a while since Freeport got a district basketball win,” Becktel said.
Becktel will spend around five to six weeks at Shands Hospital and plan to be back at Freeport to walk at graduation.
If you would like to help with his medical expenses, the community is raising money through a GoFundMe or venmo @FreeportHigh-School and put “Jacob Becktel” in the memo section.
You can also give a check to the school and put “Jacob Becktel” in the memo line.