A Havelock High School band student who overcame cancer only to suffer multiple burn injuries from a motor explosion will return to the football stadium Friday night.
A.J. Frazier will join his fellow band students at halftime during Havelock High’s Senior Night game against Jacksonville.
On Aug. 30, the 19-year-old Frazier and his father, Art, were working on a boat motor when it exploded. Both suffered significant burns to the arms, legs, and faces and were airlifted to the UNC Burn Unit in Chapel Hill.
For A.J. Frazier, the incident marked the second time the young man faced a potentially life threatening struggle. In 2015, he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent nine months of chemotherapy. The senior trombone player and member of the Havelock High School Marching Rams recently celebrated one year cancer free.
Acording to Frazier’s mother, Vicky Lee, the Havelock senior will join his fellow bandmates Friday in their dressing room and then sit with them in the stands at halftime.
“He wants to change into his band uniform and then he’ll hang out until halftime," she said. "He would like to stay for the whole game. The only problem is his body has a hard time adjusting to temperatures right now, so he has a problem with getting too hot or too cold.”
According to Lee, her son is doing well in his day-to-day physical therapy but is still a long way from returning home or going back to school.
“He does two to three hours of therapy every day. He still needs help walking and he’s developed a lot of scar tissue from the third degree burns,” Lee expalined.
Despite the painful healing process, Lee said her son has maintained a positive attitude throughout his ordeal.
“That was somehting I feared, that he would have depression or some form of PTSD. But he’s still been very positive," she said. "Right after the accident happened, I was in shock and his father was very upset, but A.J. said ‘At least we’re still alive; we’ll get through this together.’ He’s just always been that way.”
Following the accident in August, the Havelock High band and community rallied around the student, including participating in fundraising to help his family. Students wrote TB4 on their faces at home football games, signifying A.J.’s drill position (trombone 4) in this year's football halftime show.
To date, the Havelock Marching Rams have raised $10,000 for A.J. and his family by selling T-shirts and support bracelets, plus collecting donations. Part of this total is from the Havelock Athletic Booster Club, which donated the proceeds from two 50/50 raffles from home football games, as well.
T-shirts and support bracelets will be available at the Crystal Coast Band Classic on Saturday.
Havelock High School Band Director Jorge Benitez said his students were looking forward to seeing Frazier on Friday.
“The entire band is excited," he said. "We hope he will be able to participate in the senior recognition at halftime and maybe the trophy presentation on Saturday.”