About 300 attend vigil for ailing La Center teen




LA CENTER — With 14-year-old Cody Sherrell’s life in peril, an estimated 300 people turned out for a candlelight vigil Sunday night in La Center’s Holley Park.

Lisa Gonzalez said she put word of the vigil out through her son’s Facebook, email and a phone tree.

Meanwhile, Cody was listed in critical condition and on life-support equipment Sunday night at Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel in Portland. He collapsed and suffered cardiac arrest during basketball practice Tuesday.

Devlin Stutts, 17, was at the vigil. He is the Junior Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 484, Cody’s troop.

“I went to the hospital today. He is on life support and he was dwindling fast when I was there,” Stutts said. He said the Sherrell family is wrestling with whether to take Cody off life support and was waiting for a relative from New York to arrive on Monday.

“Cody was a very good Scout,” Stutts said. “He was just a good kid.”

Gazing at the big crowd, which started gathering about 6:40 p.m., Justin Mendez, 17, said, “The community comes together when there is a tragedy. It’s one of the benefits of living in a small community like this.” Mendez is La Center High School’s student body president.

Pastor Neil Magnuson led the vigil in prayer, saying, “God, we pray for a miracle.”

As the hundreds in the crowd of all ages held candles, Gonzalez invited anyone who desired to speak, noting, “We’re all family here.” At least a dozen accepted her offer.

Gonzalez described Cody as quiet and a “real sweetheart.”

“He got brand-new basketball shoes and he didn’t want to scuff ’em up, wanted to save them for the game.”

Gonzalez’ boys, Brett and Oscar, are friends with Cody. She added, “Everybody that goes to school knows Cody.”

She said she wished Cody’s parents, Brandon and Renee, “were here right now to see the love and support from this community.”

Candy Irish said Cody’s battle is on the minds of many. “He’s on hundreds or thousands of prayer chains,” she said. And looking into the sea of candles and faces, she said, “What an awesome community we live in.”

At one point, a single voice started singing “Amazing Grace,” and soon many joined.

Mark Mansell, superintendent of La Center’s 1,550-student school district, said, “Cody made a difference in the lives of our kids and our staff.”

“Our kids mean everything to us,” Mansell said, adding he took the opportunity to hug his son after a bike ride they went on together Sunday.

When Cody collapsed, a coach and parent began administering CPR before emergency crews arrived, likely saving the boy from dying in the middle school gym.

Cody, who had no previous history of heart problems, was taken to Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center and then to Randall Children’s Hospital, where he was placed in therapeutic hypothermia — a condition that dropped his temperature to between 90 and 93 degrees — to reduce the risk of brain damage.