Friends' fundraising efforts halted by school district

Aubrey Thompson, 16, injured in racing crash

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It has been one week since a Bartram Trail High School student was severely injured in a racing crash near school.

Aubrey Thompson, 16, continues to recover at UF Health Jacksonville. Since the accident, Thompson's teammates, friends and fellow students have stepped up in a big way to support their injured friend.

"I just really want to support Aubrey, we're not trying to pocket the money, we just really want to be there as support," said Lauren Lavarias.

Last Friday t-shirts with Thompson's number on them, 17, were seen at the school's game against Creekside High. At $10 a pieace, 250 shirts were sold within 10 minutes. Proceeds from the t-shirts went to Thompson's family to help pay for his medical bills. 

The fundraising effort has inspired more students to step in and help, but at least one group's generosity is being met with some resistance.

Three of Thompson's friends had rubber bracelets made that have "#prayforaubrey" and "Play Hard, Pray Harder" written on them.  The saying has become a new mantra for the football team at Bartram Trail. Administrators at the school told the students that they couldn't sell the bracelets. Directory of Community relations for the school, Christina Langston, told Channel 4 that the tough answer from the principal came with good reason.

"The principal has been contacted by many groups, students and organizations who want to do something to help Aubrey - and while it's much appreciated, it's a bit overwhelming for both the family and the school," said Langston. "As of right now, the principal has told them that she may look at a fundraiser where they have a sponsor in the future, but at this point, just with the amount of requests that have come in, and trying to create that sense of normalcy, and not setting precedence, and respecting the family's wishes, she is just telling them to hold off and not do these types of activities at school."

"It's definitely frustrating a little bit because we're trying to get them out, and so many people want them at Bartram and since we can't bring them there, it's just really hard," said Ansley St. John. "I sold a bag of 100 in 30 minutes and I came home and I was like, we've got to buy more, we've got to get these in."

The group says they understand that rules are rules, but they hope the district will re-consider and let them wear their support for Thompson around their wrists.

Thompson is still listed in critical condition at UF Health. On social media, his parents sent out an update on his condition, saying that some of the swelling in his brain has gone down and his brain activity is increasing. Thompson's parents thanked everyone for their support and prayers since the crash. 

The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office is continuing their investigation into the crash and say a report on the accident won't be available for another couple of weeks.

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