PORTLAND, Ore. -- On Friday, Sunset High School dedicated its first football game of the season to Sam Day, the Beaverton teen who lost a six-year-long fight with cancer on Aug. 27.
Sam's story was well-documented and when he passed away, it hit home for many in his community.
At 15 years old, Friday’s game would have been Sam’s first as a Sunset freshman to cheer for the football team. Instead, the football team cheered for Sam.
The Apollos ran onto the field carrying a banner that said “I am Sam.” Sam’s sister, Natalie, is a senior at Sunset. She took the field as an honorary captain during the coin toss.
Loved ones said Sam left nothing to chance when he was alive, living each day to its fullest as he battled Ewing's sarcoma.
Watch: "I am Sam" video
“It's been six years this weekend that we discovered Sam's tumor,” said Sam’s father, Bob Day. “This community has walked with us every step of the way and cared for us. Losing him last week…this week has been so difficult.”
The week was tempered by moments the family shared on the shores of San Diego. It's where Sam learned to surf, even after losing his left leg bellow the knee, inspiring some of the world's best in the sport. On Thursday, Sam's family returned to San Diego to paddle out with dozens of surfers who gathered to honored Sam’s life.
“It was a thrill for him and he would always talk about catching that one great wave,” said Sam’s mother, Lorna Day.
Back at Sunset High School, another battle brewed off the football field-- the fight against cancer. Students handed out buttons that said “I love Sam,” and accepted donations for the Rutledge Foundation.
“When they know someone with cancer they'll remember this and realize that we just need to spread awareness for this to raise money for it,” said senior Julia Lo.
The banner with Sam's name on it stayed on the football field during the whole game. Sam’s mother said it felt like part of Sam did, too.
“I can still feel his spirit,” said Lorna Day. “It’s always inside of me.”