Washington to honor ALS combatant Greg Cooper

Published 4:38 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Washington football coach Jon Blank regularly refers to the team, staff and supporters as the “Pam Pack family.” The team will be honoring one of its own, Greg Cooper, during Friday’s game against North Lenoir.

Cooper is a former Pam Pack player and the father of senior center Ethan Cooper. He was diagnosed with ALS over the summer. Washington hopes to raise awareness of his battle and the disease, while also recognizing all that he has done for the football program over the years.

“Greg has been a big help to the program in a lot of different ways,” Blank said. “He was in the landscaping business, so he would come out and do a lot of touch-up work. He would help us cut the fields or till up the long-jump pits. … Any time we needed something, he was happy to come out and help us with that stuff.”

Cooper added, “It makes me feel good. For years, I’ve helped out, but I haven’t done it with any thought of any giving back to me. It’s kind of made me feel good. A lot of the Pam Pack family has contacted me and supported me. I’m excited that the Pack family is behind me.”

Blank always says that, in a smaller community like Washington, it “takes a village” to get everything done. Cooper takes as much pride in Pam Pack athletics as anyone else.

To honor Cooper, the players will wear special stickers on their helmets and the cheerleaders will distribute ribbons.

“I am very appreciative of it and them raising awareness for ALS. Sometimes ALS is kind of a forgotten thing,” Cooper said. He found out about the plans for Friday on Monday morning. The Pam Pack program and Fritz Tanner, among others, had been working toward it for some time.

“I am excited about it. My dad also died of (ALS). There’s no cure to it, so I’m excited about any awareness they bring to it.”

Cooper, the coaches and players all expect Friday to be an emotional night. He knows his son is tough, though.

“It will be kind of emotional,” Cooper said. “With Ethan seeing my dad pass away and me now … he’s bothered by it, but what I hate is for such a young kid to be a caregiver to his dad. He’s handling it well. He’s pretty excited about his dad being recognized.”

Ethan Cooper and the Washington football team will square off against North Lenoir in their second 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference game of the season. Kick off is slated for 7 p.m. at “Choppy” Wagner Field.

To donate to Cooper and his family, visit his YouCaring page.