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Three-month-old Tatum Dunn's battle with a brain tumor touching hearts of football coaches across the U.S.

Tatum Dunn is the daughter of Michelle and Steve Dunn, who is an assistant at Broken Arrow and a former Carl Albert player. Her battle has provided a lesson in toughness to a bunch of football coaches who will soon be preaching a similar message to their players.
by Jenni Carlson Published: August 6, 2013
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Football coaches who will soon be preaching toughness and perseverance to their players are learning those lessons themselves.

Their teacher: a tiny 3-month-old girl.

Tatum Dunn is the daughter of Michelle and Steve Dunn. Her daddy played high school football at Carl Albert in the early 2000s, went on to be a graduate assistant at Oklahoma State and an assistant at Central Oklahoma, then became the defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator at Broken Arrow High School. He has spent his life largely under the Friday night lights.

But right now, Tatum is the one in the spotlight.

She has a tumor in her brain.

Over the past week, her parents have shared details of her battle via Twitter and Facebook. What began as a way to keep concerned family and friends in the know has spawned something unexpected and wonderful.

Tatum has created a movement.

“It's been unbelievable seeing all the people that have rallied,” Steve's brother, Mike, said.

The Dunns' ordeal began when they realized that Tatum's tiny head was swelling.

Tests revealed a tumor.

Last week, the Dunns went to Memphis and the renowned Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. On Friday, their surgeon told them he believed Tatum has desmoplastic infantile ganglioglioma. It is a rare type of brain tumor that most common in children younger than 1.

But in many cases, the tumors are benign.

Good news.

The surgeon also said it didn't appear that the tumor was attached to blood vessels and could be completely removed if everything went well.

Even better news.

Surgery was scheduled for Tuesday morning.

Support flooded into Memphis. Steve's family. Michelle's family. Longtime friends. A pastor. A youth pastor. They buoyed the Dunns.

But then the support network grew in a way they never imagined.

A hashtag that Steve first used on his Twitter account on Thursday started to appear in other people's tweets. At first, most of them came from people with connections to Broken Arrow High or people who were in the Tulsa area, but because Steve is also the recruiting coordinator at Broken Arrow and has many connections, the hashtag quickly spread.

Suddenly, #PrayForTatum was everywhere.

By Tuesday morning, football coaches from 22 states had tweeted the hashtag. Some like Arkansas coach Bret Bielema were well known. Most were lesser so. But the fingers of support stretched all across the country.

“When you're a coach, you know you're a part of something special, something bigger than yourself,” said brother Mike, a coach himself who is about to begin his first season as defensive coordinator at Rockdale High School near Austin, Texas.


How to help

Three-month-old Tatum Dunn, daughter of Broken Arrow High School defensive coordinator Steve Dunn, who is a graduate of Carl Albert High and Oklahoma State, is scheduled to have brain surgery Thursday to remove a tumor.

Want to help Tatum and her family?

-- Visit any AVB Bank and make a deposit to the Tatum Dunn Support Trust.

-- Mail a check made out to the Tatum Dunn Foundation Inc. to CareFirst Pharmacy, 2530 N. Elm Place, Broken Arrow, OK 74012.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

How to help

Three-month-old Tatum Dunn, daughter of Broken Arrow High School defensive coordinator Steve Dunn, who is a graduate of Carl Albert High and Oklahoma State, is scheduled to have brain surgery Thursday to remove a tumor.

Want to help Tatum and her family?

*Visit any AVB Bank and make a deposit to the Tatum Dunn Support Trust.

*Mail a check made out to the Tatum Dunn Foundation Inc. to CareFirst Pharmacy, 2530 N. Elm Place, Broken Arrow, OK 74012.

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