NORTH CENTER — About 200 Lane Tech students gathered before classes Friday to pray for Drew Williams, a football player who's in a coma after collapsing on the sidelines last week.
The 17-year-old suffered what his family called "severe head trauma" during a Friday night game between Lane Tech and Dunbar Vocational Career Academy at Gately Stadium in Pullman. Williams has been at Advocate Christ Medical Center ever since.
"The only thing that I knew that we could do is pray," said Victor Gonzalez, the 17-year-old senior who organized Friday's prayer.
"A lot of us were trying to get #prayfordrew trending on Twitter," Gonzalez said. "Why not do it for real?”
Drew was off his respirator and breathing on his own Friday, the Lane Tech Parent Teacher Student organization posted about 5 p.m. on its Facebook page.
Earlier, at 7:30 a.m., Gonzalez hopped up on a concrete pillar and urged his classmates to gather round and bow their heads — even if they didn't believe in God.
"We are Lane Tech family," Gonzalez said. "We are one city, and we are one school, and we are here to support Drew Williams because when he falls, we are here to lift him up."
Football players donned bright yellow shirts with the words "Drew in our hearts" surrounding a green heart-shaped football.
Senior Damian Jordan, 18, whose mother helped design the T-shirts, said the team would wear them until Friday night's game.
Gonzalez asked classmates to pray for Williams, the Williams family and the injured student's physical and mental health.
"I have faith that God will bring him out of this. My God can heal," Gonzalez said. "Because one of our brothers has fallen, we will put our faith in your hands, God, that you will bring him out of this journey that leaves an impact on all of us."
On Friday morning, the #prayfordrew tag was gaining popularity on Twitter, as students, alumni and well-wishers posted photos and articles. Chance the Rapper even tweeted support on Thursday: "Hey Drew I'm praying for ya! #prayfordrew."
As of Friday morning, Williams' condition "remains critical," according to Mike Maggio, a spokesman for Christ Hospital.
A website established for the teen was taken down by the family, Maggio said.
In a statement issued Friday morning, the family said: "This is a difficult period for our family, but we want to express our gratitude to Drew's teachers, coaches, teammates, friends and classmates for their prayers and support."
Thanking the general public as well, the family added, "At this time, our son's recovery is of utmost priority, and, as a family, we need to be focused on his well-breing. For that reason, we are asking for privacy. We may have more to say later when this time of healing is over."
Patty Wetli contributed reporting.