Leetonia High School hosted a pep assembly Friday afternoon, ahead of its homecoming basketball game. Most of the student body opted not to wear the school's colors. However, it's not because the students in Leetonia lack school spirit. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
The Leetonia boys basketball team takes on McDonald Friday night and while the heated match up is the reason for the pep assembly, it's not the only cause students in Leetonia are rallying around.
"It is really cool just to see them care about a cause and care about people. You know, it started because they cared about me, but now they are expanding," said Michele Janci of Leetonia.
As part of Wear Red Day, the student body was encouraged to wear red to raise awareness about heart disease and its impacts on women. Women, like Michele Janci, who last year received a pacemaker after suffering congestive heart failure. Her son Luke recalls learning the news.
"I never really thought she would have heart problems. I knew she had a heart murmur before that and my dad does too, but nothing really that severe. So once I found that out, I was really surprised by that and I felt really bad for her and we all did," said Luke Janci of Leetonia.
So before a basketball game last year, Luke and three his friends shaved hearts into their hair to support Michele. This year, they got the entire school on board to open their hearts to help those who've had heart complications.
"I can't say enough how much our students step up to these challenges, volunteer their services, their time and rally around one another," said Leetonia High School prinicpal Troy Radinsky.
"I hope they just pay attention to the bigger picture of it and just because I have experienced it in my family and I really found out it is a hard disease to live with," said Luke Janci.
There is another reason behind why this cause is so important to the school. The boy's basketball coach also has a pacemaker.