The #HeatherStrong movement to support former Lady Tiger athlete Heather Rogers Davis, began with SISD District Information Officer Ana Murray showing her support by posting her runs on social media to promote awareness of Heather’s undiagnosed illness and “run for her until she could do it for herself.”
High school staff, who worked beside Heather’s mother Janice who was the campus nurse until she retired early to take care of her daughter and grandchildren, also wanted to get involved to help the family.
“Janice got kids clothes, shirts, glasses, whatever they needed,” said Geometry/Algebra teacher Carol Cullen. “We miss her.”
Heather did a stint as an ICU nurse and was working as a Physician’s Assistant at Seton Smithville Medical Clinic as the main medical provider for many of the SISD staff.
“A lot of people have been impacted by her,” said Ms. Murray.
Some staff began posting supportive hashtags on social media with their workouts. Their posts include the main hashtag, along with “#runningforheather” and “#ladytiger24” which was Davis’ basketball number in high school. The tags #nevergiveup”, “#strengthinnumbers” “alwaysinyourcorner” are also used.
Counselor Rosie Gutierrez and Ms. Cullen approached Ms. Murray to create an event for others to come together to help, and a committee of over 20 organized a 5K run that was held in October at Barry Field. The event also included a barbecue lunch which served over 500 plates and a live auction. Runners got a pink t-shirt, which is Davis’ favorite color. Student groups PALS, Student Council, the Culinary Department and Girls’ Athletics also got involved volunteering their time at the event.
Ms. Murray lists the help of the school district, the city, the chamber of commerce, and Bastrop County Strength where Rogers used to work out as instrumental in the 5K.
But the staff didn’t think that hosting the event was enough and wanted to be the main sponsor of the event, according to Ms. Gutierrez.
At first Ms. Gutierrez and Ms. Cullen asked the teachers for $7.50 each, the price of a meal, to raise $500, but Business/Marketing teacher Mr. Stewart Burns said that they should ask for $15 to instead raise $1,000. Their in-house incentive, offered by Principal Kenneth Parker if they reached their goal, was a week of wearing jeans.
So they did.
Roger’s sister Megan Chavez said that the shows of support help the family immensely. They read the posts to Heather and to her children.
This spring she became wheel-chair bound, cannot speak or take care of her three young children. Her husband, Cody, a Houston Fire Department firefighter, and her family have stepped in to help fill Roger’s role with the children.
Murray noted that Heather was an all-around athlete, competing in numerous sports and playing on the state basketball championship team in 2000 which came up only three points short of the win. She had a passion for fitness and especially running, said Mrs. Chavez. Heather could be seen running on the streets of Smithville daily.
A Facebook page and website at www.runningforheather.com has been set up with a passage from the Bible, Hebrews 12:1, is cited. “And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”