WALKER, LA (WAFB) - It has been two months since Brad Garafola Jr. lost his father in an ambush attack on law enforcement in Baton Rouge. Since then, many of his friends in Walker have been through tough times on a different level.
In their first football game since all of the chaos unfolded, those friends wanted Brad to know they have not forgotten what happened before the flood and they never will.
The Westside Junior High School Gators had a new captain leading them onto the field against their biggest rival Tuesday night and he was not even on the team until now.
When Brad Garafola Jr.'s father was killed in that awful ambush in July, his friends at school did not want to lose track of his pain. They wanted to do something big for him, but that is about the time the rains came and kept on coming. Some of those same friends ended up losing most of what they owned in a historic flood.
"Everybody was affected in this parish and for these kids to be as resilient as they are, they showed up for practice. We started two weeks ago even before school started back," said Brad Crain, the football coach for Westside Junior High School.
Still, they did not forget about their friend. The first football game back seemed like the perfect time to let him know that. Both teams on the field, Westside Jr. High and North Corbin Middle, held a "Wear the Blue for the Blue Day" at their schools this week. They raised $2,000 for the Garafola family.
Wearing his father's high school football number, Deputy Brad Garafola's son proudly carried the American flag onto the field in front of his mother, siblings, and grandparents as the honorary captain.
"It means to me, it means to make everyone happier instead of being down and upset," Garafola Jr. said.
"It was amazing. It was phenomenal," Tonja Garafola said. "I feel nothing but good vibes all around. I know I got teary eyed and emotional but behind all that, I got comfort too."
Cheerleaders from both teams performed a special cheer in honor of the family and presented the Garafolas with red roses.
It would have been easy for the children to think about themselves and all they had lost. It would have been easy to lose track of their friend, Brad, who had lost his everything even before it started raining, but they didn't.