KREMLIN — Wearing his No. 78 red football jersey and with the aid of a wheelchair and a walker, Bryce Gannon made his way to the center of the football field for the announcement of this year's homecoming king and queen.
Gannon, 17, who anchored the defensive and offensive lines at nose guard and center last year, and Tyler Zander, 17, each lost a leg after they became trapped Aug. 4 in an auger at Zaloudek Grain Co. Gannon was released from the Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Center on Monday, but took a break from his therapy the previous Friday to attend his high school homecoming.
“He was just so excited to be there,” said Steve Hoffsommer, Kremlin-Hillsdale superintendent.
With lights flashing and sirens blaring, four Kremlin fire trucks escorted Gannon as he rode in a golf cart to the school.
“This was the first homecoming where all eyes were on the king,” Hoffsommer said. “Everybody was looking for him.”
As the golf cart became visible to the crowd “the place went nuts,” Hoffsommer said. Everyone in the stadium stood up, including visitors from the opposing team, Ringwood. It seemed like the applause would never stop.
“There wasn't a dry eye in the house,” Hoffsommer said.
“It was the most memorable homecoming I have ever seen.”
The cheering grew even louder when Gannon was announced as homecoming king, which came as a surprise to Gannon, and louder still as Gannon crowned Kierstin Copage as homecoming queen and kissed her on the cheek.
“She is a special girl,” Hoffsommer said. “But all eyes were on the king. She was gladly upstaged.”
Students at the Garfield County school of 335 students have been there for Gannon since the day of the accident, Hoffsommer said.
“One day I was visiting him in the hospital. We couldn't carry on a conversation because of all the text messages from his classmates,” Hoffsommer said.