ST. GEORGE – Community members are uniting in an outpouring of love, prayers and support for 16-year-old Britton Shipp and his family as the Snow Canyon High School football player lies in a coma at Dixie Regional Medical Center following an ATV accident that occurred Saturday. Rival schools have even set aside their differences to show support for their fellow athlete, and a few local schools, as well as friends of the Shipp family, have planned fundraisers, taking place this coming week, to help the family with what may be a long road of medical expenses ahead.
“There are going to be some big medical bills,” Denise Webster, a friend and neighbor of the Shipp family, said.
Shipp was participating in a group activity prior to Snow Canyon High School’s Sadie Hawkins dance Saturday when he and his date, a 15-year-old Snow Canyon student, crashed while riding in a Polaris RZR side-by-side all-terrain vehicle in Pine Valley. Shipp was taken by Life Flight to Dixie Regional Medical Center in critical condition with a severe skull fracture; his date was taken to DRMC by ambulance and has since reportedly been released from the hospital.
Shipp has already undergone two surgeries – the second took place at approximately 3 a.m. Sunday – and medical personnel are monitoring him for responsiveness.
“The doctor’s been awesome,” Webster said. “I don’t think he’s gone home and slept at all.”
On Sunday, friends, relatives, members of the Shipp family’s LDS church ward, students from Snow Canyon High and other local schools, and people throughout the St. George community united in a day of fasting and prayer for Shipp. Sunday afternoon, a crowd gathered at the Snow Canyon High School football stadium for a “break the fast” ceremony and group prayer.
“It was really neat. Hopefully it was healing,” Webster said. “For that one boy that was there (when the accident happened), it was extremely traumatic.”
The boy she referred to, one of Shipp’s friends, was present when the accident happened and helped Shipp and his date as they waited for emergency responders to arrive. Shipp’s friend spoke at the break-the-fast vigil, along with one of Shipp’s football coaches; another coach offered a prayer for the assembled crowd.
Fellow football team members signed Shipp’s No. 9 jersey at the event to be presented to his family, Webster said.
Webster said as she was descending the bleacher steps at the conclusion of the event, she saw a group of teens wearing Pine View High School baseball jerseys who had attended the ceremony.
“I just think it’s really classy that so many of the other teams are coming together to show their support,” Webster said.
Sunday night, following the prayer meeting, members of the Desert Hills High School football team, followed by members of the Dixie High School football team, visited the hospital to show their support for Shipp and his family.
Various fundraisers are in the works to help the Shipp family during this time. On Monday, Snow Canyon High School will host “Miracle Monday” for Shipp. Snow Canyon students are being asked to wear their Sunday best to school, Webster said, and there will be a “miracle minute” during first period, at which time students will be able donate money to help the Shipp family.
Dixie High School, Pine View High School and Desert Hills High School will raise funds for the Shipps during this weekend’s football games, Webster said. Buckets will be passed around at the games for attendees to place donations in.
“People going to the games, just be generous and take some extra change, and that would be awesome,” Webster said.
A family friend has also set up a GoFundMe page for the Shipp family that immediately got a very positive response, Webster said.
“Within just a few minutes they were up to $390 or something like that,” she said.
At the time of this publication, the donation page has amassed more than $5,600 for the Shipp family within a nine-hour time frame.
“It’s just tremendous,” Webster said.
A bracelet fundraiser is also in the works. “Believe4Britton” wristbands are being made and will be sold beginning Wednesday afternoon at Swig, located at 989 E. Tabernacle in St. George, to raise money for the Shipp family. (See ed. note)
Other fundraisers are also in the works. Updated information can be found on the “Believe4Britton” Facebook page as details become available.
As of Sunday night, Webster said, there was a bit of positive news regarding Shipp’s condition.
“His vitals have kind of stabilized a little better, which is good,” she said.
As soon as the swelling begins to lessen inside Shipp’s head, an MRI can be conducted to get more information and help physicians better assess his condition, she said.
Shipp’s family and friends invite continued prayers from the community on his behalf as they continue to watch and wait.
“(Praying) is what we can do right now,” Webster said.
“They’re just so grateful for what everybody’s doing,” she added.
Ed. note: Newly received details added about wristband fundraiser.
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