GRANITE CITY, Ill. – The soccer field in Granite City took on a different look Thursday. Two historic rivals stood united to support a beloved community member battling cancer.
Alex Paz will need a liver transplant as he is battling a hereditary form of the disease. Paz has a business in Collinsville and was a state champion as a high school soccer player for Granite City in the 1970s.
He’s also been a fixture in both communities, known for capturing photos of community events and sharing those images with those who ask.
“Alex is a humble person, and he’s always given back providing great memories for families in the community,” said Clay Smity, Collinsville High School Athletic Director. “It’s only right that we step up and help him out.”
Proceeds from a 50-50 raffle and T-shirt sales will be donated to Paz to help with medical expenses. The T-shirts that were sold read “Y.N.W.A.” on the back. The acronym stands for “you never walk alone” and is the mantra for Liverpool F.C.
“He’s not going to walk alone in this battle,” said Smith.
Granite City Athletic Director John Moad was not surprised by the willingness of the two rivals to join forces. He said, “They always step up, and they rise to the occasion to support people in need.”
Student groups from both schools got involved. Collinsville senior Kailey Stauthammer is part of one of the organizations selling raffle tickets during the match.
“He’s not walking alone, and we all have his back,” said Stauthammer.
Granite City High School junior Drake Reeves believes the inaugural Paz Cup is also setting a good example for how rivals can unite to help someone in need. He said, “I think more of our community and other communities should do the same thing.”
When asked for his reaction to the support being offered, Paz took a deep breath and called the event overwhelming.
Collinsville took home the traveling trophy with a 3-0 victory.