Freeport basketball player diagnosed with leukemia

FREEPORT, Fla. (WMBB) — The Freeport boys’ basketball team took a big hit this month as one of their key players, Jacob Becktel, was diagnosed with leukemia.

“One evening I told my mum I wanted to go to the ER, they told me my white blood cell count was very high, very high. From there it was downhill, no doubt the biggest shock I’ve ever been through, but all I can do is get through it,” Becktel said.

Becktel was airlifted to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, where he began chemotherapy treatment last week.

Freeport basketball head coach David Felix said it was difficult to lose a player like Becktel at this stage of the season.

“He’s worked harder than anyone I’ve had here in nine years, he wants to be a jump shooter, he wants to dive into basketball and he’s worked hard to do those two things and I think that ‘He’ll have the same work ethic to beat this leukemia,’ Becktel said.

Even though doctors believe Becktel will make a full recovery, undergoing treatment and being away from home is not easy for the eldest.

“Honestly I’m just trying to hold my head up basketball seems to be pushing me right now seeing the boys doing what they do and stuff makes me want to push through so I can see them all at the end of it,” Becktel said.

The Freeport community has already come together for Becktel, setting up a GoFundMe to help cover his medical bills.

“It’s nice to see everyone coming together as a family. Honestly, it means the world to me because if I didn’t have anyone behind me, I probably wouldn’t want to do this so much. I just want to go home with everyone and the basketball team,” Becktel said.

Becktel said he continued to support his team even though he was nearly 300 miles away and had only one message for his teammates back home.

“Win quarters for me. Because I’ve never won anything in basketball with the team and that’s one thing I wanted for the team, it’s a district win because I think it’s been a while since Freeport has not won district basketball,” Becktel said.

Becktel will spend approximately five to six weeks at Shands Hospital and plans to return to Freeport to walk at graduation.

If you’d like to help with his medical expenses, the community is fundraising through a GoFundMe or venmo @FreeportHigh-School and put “Jacob Becktel” in the memo section.

You can also give the school a check and put “Jacob Becktel” in the memo line.

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