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Falcons, Mustangs come together as ’Team Elliot” to battle Leukemia

October 5, 2018

Two-year-old Elliott Sauls spent her recent birthday as a patient in M.D. Anderson, fighting leukemia, Type B.

Elliott Sauls is the daughter of Allie Thompson Sauls and Wes Sauls, who entered the 2018 football season as a first-year offensive coordinator for the Falcons at Jersey Village High School in Cy-Fair ISD. His brother-in-law, Cole Thompson, is a senior at Memorial High School in Spring Branch ISD and plays safety for the Mustangs. The Falcons and Mustangs will go head-to-head this Saturday, but both schools’ communities will be united in support of a greater campaign, called “Team Elliott.”

On July 11, after various trips to the urgent care and pediatrician, fighting off what was thought to be a virus, Elliott began spewing blood. She was quickly taken from the emergency room to MD Anderson Cancer Center via ambulance to confirm the initial diagnosis of a form of leukemia. The medical team confirmed her diagnosis as acute lymphocytic leukemia, Type B. After 30 days of chemotherapy, she was recently released, with the cancer in remission.

“Maintaining balance between our daughter’s diagnosis and coaching the sport I love has admittedly been difficult,” Wes Sauls said. “I wouldn’t be able to do it without support from both my family at home and from my Jersey Village family.”

Elliott has another two years of different types of chemotherapy treatment ahead of her before she is officially pronounced as cured.

Shortly after her diagnosis, there was a groundswell of support mounted primarily by a GoFundMe page and various Facebook stories. The page has raised over $35,000 in just over two months to help with Elliott’s medical costs.

As a result, Team Elliott was formed. Rubber bracelets were made indicating members of Team Elliott. Jersey Village made T-shirts in support of Elliott and her parents.

“The outpouring of support from the Jersey Village High School community has been nothing short of incredible,” Allie Thompson Sauls said. “From all corners; faculty, staff, and students, it’s really been heartwarming. Team Elliott also has many members from the Memorial community too, including Memorial High School.”

Moment of solace

Just this year, UIL realignment placed Jersey Village (4-1, 3-0) and Memorial in the same district, 17-6A. Both teams are set to face each other this Saturday.

During the time Cole and West will spend trying to beat each other, they will both be wearing Team Elliott bracelets, and both know that victory for Team Elliott is so much more important than the outcome of their football game.

“When I found out Elliott was diagnosed with Leukemia, it put things in perspective,” said Cole Thompson, Elliott’s uncle. “It was a new level of importance for me. I’m proud to say I’m a charter member of Team Elliott.

“I’ve worn my Team Elliott bracelet every day since the day I got it and I’ll continue to wear it till my sister tells me Elliott is cured and I can take it off. Now, Elliott doesn’t know that, but some day she will. I want her to know how many people had her back.”

The matchup is set for Saturday, 6 p.m., at Tully Stadium.

“It’s been a trying last few months for my family and me, but the game of football and the people involved have made it a lot easier,” Wes Sauls said.

Allie is also really looking forward to the game.

“I grew up in Memorial and, in fact, graduated from Memorial,” Allie Thompson Sauls said. “Besides my little brother, I still have a lot of ties to the school through family, friends and clients.”

Cole admits he’s been following Jersey Village, to some extent.

“Since my brother-in-law first started working there, he’s doing a great job,” Cole Thompson said. “He’s got that side of the ball hitting on all cylinders.”

Like-minded

Only three sophomores made Memorial’s varsity football team. One of them is Jack Dragna, who had acute lymphocytic leukemia, same as Elliott, when he was a child.

“I hope Cole has a great game for the Mustangs, just not so great that it causes Jersey Village to lose,” Allie Thompson Sauls said.

Jersey Village is explosive and the numbers they’ve put up under Wes Sauls are impressive. The Falcons beat Northbrook 56-0 in week 5, Cy-Creek 28-21 and Cy-Ridge 25-21 in their first district game. They also beat Cinco Ranch 50-48 and lost to Alief Hastings 34-18 in non-district play.

“For two hours this Saturday night, my teammates and I will be doing everything in our power to shut him down,” Cole Thompson said before the game. “And, by the same token, I know he’ll be doing everything he can to light us up.

“However, no matter what happens in the football game, ‘Wes and Cole’ will always be united. And it’s more than just the fact that he’s married to my sister.”

Elliott has even been featured as a poster child for the M.D. Anderson blood bank. She can be seen in a flyer that was used during the month of September.

“We share a bond on Team Elliott,” Cole Thompson said. “And when that day comes when Team Elliott chalks-up a victory, I’m sure we’ll both be happier about that win than any on the football field.”

For Allie Thompson Sauls, it’s undeniable that Team Elliott is her main focus right now.

“I’ve achieved that tunnel vision which comes from having a child with cancer,” Allie Thompson Sauls said. “It’s not about childhood cancer statistics anymore; it’s about our daughter. Team Elliott was formed to unite all those who have been touched by Elliott’s journey.”

alvaro.montano@chron.com

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