Our Turn: Jaylend’s is a local story, and an important one

It’s been nearly a week since Scotland High School quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe suffered a skull fracture in an ATV accident in Laurinburg.

A Recruiting.Scout.com photo Jaylend Ratliffe

A Recruiting.Scout.com photo
Jaylend Ratliffe

The Pee Dee Post hasn’t reported on the incident largely because it is not, by and large, a Richmond County issue. And though Scotland plays Richmond Senior on the gridiron once each year — and this year, coaches have ranked Scotland No. 1 and Richmond No. 2 in the Class 4-A Southeastern Conference — it remains a Scotland County issue.

But somewhere along the line, we lost perspective. We were wrong. I was wrong. The lives of those who live in the adjacent counties of Scotland and Richmond are intertwined; the kids play each other in sports, compete for some of the same scholarships, see each other in summer camps … after a week of reflection I’ve come to realize Jaylend’s story needs to be shared. Those lines that designate each county are only seen on a map; they are imaginary, and in few ways do much to divide the interaction and connection between us.

Part of it is because Jaylend displays so much talent on a football field. Part of it is, yes, because he has verbally committeed to play football for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Part of it is because the incident presents the opportunity to talk about ATV safety and awareness. Kids, wear your helmets! Part of it that it’s simply tragic to see someone so young suffer so greatly.

Part of it because his family needs help, your help, as his mother faces mounting medical bills for a very unexpected event. You might be inclined to donate to the fund set up for the family at State Employees’ Credit Union. Maybe you want to donate online. So far, more than $8,000 has been raised from 213 donations, any of them anonymous, through an online fund administered by Debbie LeGett Lawrence.

Maybe you want to buy a T-shirt. Donald and Bobbie Lowe are working out of their garage to produce as many T-shirts as people are demanding. The cotton tees sport Jayelend’s football jersey No. 2 with the word “strong.” The “t” in “strong” is the cross. The 2 is significant because it’s symbolic of more than a jersey number, but also of a team and community coming “2gether.”

Submitted photo Haley Sellers and Javon Ratliffe, Jaylend's younger brother, sport "2 Strong" shirts. Proceeds of shirt sales will go to the Ratliffe family.

Submitted photo
Haley Sellers and Javon Ratliffe, Jaylend’s younger brother, sport “2 Strong” shirts. Proceeds of shirt sales will go to the Ratliffe family.

At least 285 shirts have been ordered at $20 apiece, Bobbie Lowe said Monday afternoon. Seventy (70) percent of the cost of each shirt will be donated directly to the family; the rest covers overhead such as the cost of T-shirts and ink, Lowe said. Lowe said she’d do this for any Scotland student but there’s a personal connection here. Lowe and Jaylend’s mother are friends. Besides that, Lowe’s parents used to babysit Jaylend many years ago. To order a T-shirt, call Lowe at 910-280-9927.

Jaylend, 17, remains at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte in stable. He stands 6-feet, 1-inch tall and weighs 195 pounds. He can run the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds. He wants to play college football and maybe more. Absolutely none of that matters right now.

“He’s in the fight of his life,” Lowe said of Jaylend, who woke up in the hospital over the weekend and reportedly is responsive. “This is the biggest game he’s ever going to play.”

The account at State Employees’ Credit Union was established by the Scotland County Rescue Squad and the Laurinburg Police Department. The fund was established by squad commander Kevin Strickland, who cited the link between Scotland County public safety agencies and Jaylend’s mother, Sharon McIntyre. McIntyre works as a police dispatcher.

“We’re in the business of taking care of people,” Strickland told a Scotland County newspaper. “The least we can do is take care of our own.”

Whatever your connection to Jaylend and his story — whether you’ve seen him play ball, talked to him in the grocery store, in the school hallway or perhaps nothing more than caring for a student-athlete that reminds you of your son, brother, grandson, uncle or former best friend — we share the human connection.

Reach out and connect. Let’s helps care for one of our neighbors. One of our own.

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Opinion

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  • Michelle Simpson

    What a fantastic article. I used to live in Scotland County but moved away five years ago. Thank you for “crossing the line” and showing support for a very talented young man and his family.

  • Wendy Locklear

    Thank you so much for this article about Jaylend & his family. He, along with the rest of the Fighting Scots, have helped to bring much happiness & pride to our county for the last several years. I and many other Scotland County citizens were looking forward to another winning season, with Jaylend leading the Fighting Scots on Friday nights. But God had a different plan. Not only has this young man brought us together through football, but now he has caused this community to come together in prayer. Our whole community has sent up many prayers for this family & for Dakota Holland’s family. We have learned, in just one short week, that our God is a merciful, healing God today & everyday. God has a plan for Jaylend and I think it will be a great testimony to his healing power. I believe Jaylend will have a great testimony one day, but on our God’s time. Keep praying for Jaylend!!

    • Priscilla

      Amen

  • Denise Evans

    They might try teespring.Com for shirts. They can spread the word further plus teespring will print and send out the shirts once the goal has been reached. This will also assist with medical costs while spreading the awareness of his accident. May God bless him on his journey and a speedy, healthy recovery.

  • Vickie Jacobs Clark

    I was born and raised in Richmond County and graduated from the last class of Hamlet High. For 36 years I have called Scotland County my home as I married a man from Laurinburg. We all look forward each year to Fall and the Friday night lights especially the Scotland/Richmond game. This game has always been bittersweet to me as I have ties with both teams. Seeing the outpouring of love, prayers and support from Richmond county for Jaylend has made me one proud Hometown girl. We are ALL God’s children. Thanks Richmond Couinty and may God bless you all.

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