Honoring Michael Burns
Once a Mustang, always a Mustang.
This sentiment rang true for the senior football players last Friday night as they gathered to play under The Mountain’s lights one last time. It wasn’t the loud student section, the freezing rain or the victory that made the night so meaningful – it was a special moment before the Mustangs took the field that will be remembered.
Former CAC student Michael Burns was born in 1999 with a hypoplastic left heart. He underwent multiple reconstructive surgeries and battled constant illness, all while going to school, loving football and trying to keep a normal routine. February of 2014, after many complications, Michael passed away and left a void in the CAC community forever.
Michael would have graduated this year, and as plans for the senior night ceremony were being made, his name was included from the beginning.
“Michael was really involved in football,” senior Ryan Tyrrell, who helped organized the tribute, said. “He couldn’t play, but it was his life-long dream. He spent so much time with the team, and we thought it would be really special to honor him on the field.”
In addition to painting MCB (Michael’s initials) on the field, the senior football players signed and framed a jersey to present to Michael’s parents. Ryan said they decided to use the #18 jersey to represent Michael’s graduation year, but couldn’t find an extra. After realizing the situation, Jason Edwards, a senior who wore #18 this season, offered up one of his jerseys to be used.
Judy and Brad Burns, Michael’s parents, attended the game and were presented the signed jersey at the end of the Senior Night presentation.
“From a parent who has lost a child, any opportunity to see that he is being remembered is worth more than words,” Judy said.
According to everyone who knew Michael, two things were certain: he loved football and he loved the Mustangs.
“That boy loved football so much,” Judy said. “Because of his surgeries, his chest was wired together, so he couldn’t compete in any contact sports. When we got over to CAC’s high school campus, I found the football coach and asked him if Michael could do anything at all to help. They found things for Michael to do, and he absolutely loved being there on the sidelines with everyone.”
Michael was an old soul; one who was quick to forgive and always ready to include anyone. Judy said on multiple occasions she tried to convince him to stay home from school so he could rest, but he would respond with, “No, I want to go to school. I want to see my kids.”
“We love that the kids still remember him and honor him and consider him their friend,” Judy said. “I tried to tell the boys, ‘Do what Michael wanted to do. Be a good person, a good father, a good husband. Do everything he wanted to do, but can’t.’ If they do that, that’ll be the best legacy Mike can have.”