Cancer victim leads Pelham by example

Published 2:17 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When Carson Sumpter was diagnosed with bone cancer a year ago, the entire Pelham High School community came together to help rally Sumpter for his fight against the disease.

For a year, Sumpter’s classmates held fundraisers and pep rallies for him and his family. Despite his struggles with cancer, he continued playing in the band and during worship services on Sundays.

Having already released one CD before his diagnosis, Sumpter continued to work on his second.

He amazed his band director, Jeff Burnside, and his worship leader at Westwood Baptist, Kevin Derryberry, with his positive attitude. Even though he was suffering, Sumpter continued to lead by example.

Last week, after a year, Sumpter’s body succumbed to the cancer. However, his spirit and attitude stayed strong.

The night before he died, he had more than 20 friends and family members gathered in his hospital room to pray, sing and play guitar.

Everyone who knew what Carson Sumpter was going through was touched, inspired and humbled by his example. While he may be gone, his legacy will live on, as was evidenced by the hundreds who attended his memorial service July 14.

Members of the Pelham High School drum line played the school’s cadence in Sumpter’s memory. Even more touching, they did so while wearing bandanas — Sumpter’s trademark.

Although it will take a while before the PHS community is able to completely heal from this loss, Sumpter himself showed the way when he told one local resident, “No matter what happens, I’ll be fine.”

Finally, after a year of struggling, Carson Sumpter truly is just fine. And through remembering his legacy, the Pelham community will be too.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.