ROSCOE VILLAGE — Family of the Lane Tech senior who fell into a coma after collapsing on the sidelines of a football game this past fall announced this week he was coming home.
It was with that good news that Lane Tech students and faculty held a prayer service Friday evening for Drew Williams' continued recovery.
Williams, 17, suffered what family called "severe head trauma" during an Oct. 4 football game between Lane Tech and Dunbar Vocational Career Academy in Pullman. Williams was initially rushed in critical condition to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where he underwent emergency surgery.
This week, family announced Williams was returning home. The teen has made progress but is still in a wheelchair and assisted by a feeding tube and tracheotomy tube to aid with breathing, family said on Facebook.
At the prayer service, friends said they could not believe seven months have passed since Williams' injury.
"But these past seven months, it's amazing how much progress he's made, and I cannot wait to see him fully recover and come back to all of us," said Desiree Valasquez, a friend of Williams' who spoke at the service. "He's already proven to all of us that he's the strongest kid we all know, and I can't wait to see that big smile and goofy laugh."
Hundreds of Lane Tech students and faculty decked out in T-shirts supporting the teen's recovery attended the service in the school's auditorium. As singers performed, students held up three fingers, signifying the number Williams wore on the school's football team.
Joe Loch, a fellow senior and close friend of Williams, talked about how he spent high school hanging out with Williams at football practice, the beach or at Williams' garage, which they called the "coach house."
"These past seven months have been rough, but Drew has made so much progress that I'm very optimistic about the future," he said. "Before we know it, we'll be chilling in the coach house again."
Loch also said he plans to play football for Loras College next year.
"Drew and I always talked about playing football together, so every time I step on the field I'll be playing for Drew as well," Loch said.
The Room, a church in Noble Square, led the service and challenged students to continue raising money for Williams' recovery.
A recovery fund was started after Williams was injured and has already managed to raise $64,000 to help family pay for medical expenses.
Pastor Eli Rodriguez of The Room told students the prayer service was about hope and being there for Williams as he returns home, but friends said they have no doubt about the teen's recovery.
"I know that Drew will use the same energy and commitment he has for his team and friends to recover so that he can bring back his sense of humor and charisma that we all miss and love," said friend Matthew Stemper.