KINGSTON (WATE) - The recovery of a Roane County High School football player who was badly injured recently has now become a community affair.
Roane County sophomore Seth Haynes broke his neck making a tackle during the opening play of the school's Friday night game against Sequoyah.
Doctors at UT Medical Center did surgery Saturday to repair his shattered third vertebrae.
While they tell Seth's mother he will be able to walk again, they say his journey back to health is going to be a long one.
However, it's one Seth's classmates are prepared for. They plan to walk every step of the way alongside him.
More than 700 students from Roane County High School turned out Tuesday morning for the Walk for Seth Haynes.
It's their way of letting their beloved classmate know he's on their minds.
"We realized how important life is and how anything can happen in just a snap," said Jamie Martin, a sophomore and teammate of Seth's on the football team.
"We just want him to know that we're thinking about him," said Ruth Thompson, a teacher at Roane County who helped organize the walk. "Until he gets back, there's going to be a void."
The devastating injury to one of their own came as a shock to the student body.
"You just never think of anything like this happening," said Martin.
These students, most of whom grew up together, say they miss him.
"It's devastated everybody. He's always been the kid that cracked jokes and make everybody laugh. It's just hard with him not being there," said Paul Bolden, a Roane County sophomore football player.
As Seth remains in the hospital, his classmates are out on the street walking and doing what they can do to be part of his road to recovery.
"He's my best friend. We've been friends since we were young and I'm just showing my support for him," said Martin.
Students also raised money for his medical bills.
They were each encouraged to donate two dollars for family expenses related to his injury.
Students and some of Seth's teammates also collected donations from members of the Kingston community as they drove by the walk site, held at the Gravel Pit across from the Kingston Community Center.
While Seth's teammates are taking it hard that he can never play football again, they're just thankful that he is going to be healthy again sometime soon.
"We're all brothers on the team. Without him, it's going to be without not seeing him dressing out, right beside us smiling. It's going to be hard," said Martin. "We love you and we're here for you whenever you need us."
Seth's mother Tammie Haynes tells 6 News her son is getting better each and every day, although his doctors still aren't sure when he'll be able to go home from the hospital.
She says Seth is hoping it's before Friday, because he's determined to attend Roane County's homecoming football game that night.
Students are also busy making a video that they plan to send to Seth while he's still in the hospital.
Organizers say they raised more than $2,500 for Seth's family.
Donations to help Seth's family with his medical bills can also be made to:
Citizens National Bank Attn: Seth Haynes or For the Benefit of Seth Haynes 202 N. Kentucky St. Kingston, TN 37763
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