BUFFALO GAP, Va. (WHSV) — On a cold, clear night, the Buffalo Gap Bison hosted the Staunton Storm for Week 8 of the varsity football season on Oct. 19.
Throughout the game, teeth could be seen chattering and fans and players alike could be seen huddling for warmth as cold temperatures set in.
But during halftime, the school's cheerleaders and band hosted a tribute that warmed everyone's hearts and brought tears
The school honored two local children who are fighting cancer – Gracie Phillips and McKenzie Woods – giving them both crowns and sashes to celebrate them.
"Because of your courage and faith, you are being honored with titles and crowns," said the announcer from the press box, a student herself.
"They are crowns made of perseverance, determination, courage, faith, and hope."
On behalf of the Buffalo Gap cheerleaders, McKenzie Woods was given the title of "2019 Courage of the Gap" for her "beautiful strength as she battles childhood leukemia."
On behalf of the Cosmos Pageant Organization, Junior Miss Virginia Cosmos 2019 Peyton Shepherd awarded Gracie Phillips the title of "Junior Miss Cosmos Fave 2019."
The school also paid tribute to the life of Maggi Peterson, a 13-year-old Churchville girl who battled Anaplastic Large cell Lymphoma from her diagnosis in October 2018 until this past Wednesday, when she passed away in the University of Virginia Medical Center.
A Buffalo Gap student read a speech she wrote earlier this week while Maggi still lived, and addressed her death.
Maggia had been nominated and awarded a title by the Cosmos Organization as well. Her crown and sash will be given to her family in the days to come.
A heartbroken community then stood for a moment of silence and held balloons aloft. And you've never seen a high school football field, with full bleachers, as silent as those moments.
Afterward, the marching band played a rendition of 'Amazing Grace' in Maggi's honor, as balloons were released into the night sky.
"On Monday night, this world was different because Maggi was in it," said the student addressing the audience.
A prayer was offered to God to thank Him for the opportunities everyone has been given and to pray for the resources to destroy childhood cancer, as well as for the healing of children like Gracie and McKenzie.
Words alone can't adequately express the tribute, however. You can watch the full video of it above. The performance of Amazing Grace can be watched on its own as well.