‘Bigger than the game itself:’ Teams show support for Mingo Central football player in ICU

Dustin Ferguson, 15, passed out and was unresponsive during the first football practice of the year. A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for his medical expenses. (WCHS/WVAH)

It's that time of year when rival high school football teams are gunning for their competition. But this week, teams from all over the state are showing their support for Mingo Central, as one of its players is fighting for his life.

There has been an outpouring of love, support and well wishes for Dustin Ferguson, 15, a lineman for the Mingo Central High School football team.

"He's a great, great kid," said Wes Wilson, president of the Mingo Central Football Boosters. "He's a go-getter."

During the first football practice of the year earlier this week, Ferguson passed out and was unresponsive. He was rushed to the hospital, where doctors found him to be severely dehydrated and suffering from kidney failure.

In the days that have followed, the community has come together in Mingo County and beyond.

"We had folks from Martinsburg High School, Wheeling Central . . . every corner of West Virginia has reached out to us and said, 'We're praying for you guys; we're here to help,' " Wilson said. "This is what it's about in sports. It's bigger than the game itself."

Some were even planning their visits to Cabell-Huntington Hospital where Ferguson remains in the intensive care unit.

"We had Coach Seals at Huntington High School, he messaged me earlier today, and said, “I'm going up with some of the players later, we're going to deliver a care package.' " Wilson said.

Community members have set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses, and a T-shirt sale is in the works.

"Someone came up with this hashtag #75 strong - 75 is his number," Wilson said.

Everyone is hoping that No. 75 will take the field again sooner rather than later.

"He's very committed to the game. I hope he'll be able to return soon to play with us," Wilson said.

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