Huge outpouring of support for hospitalized Perham athlete
Zach Gabbard doesn't know them all, probably very few.
But thousands of people are worried about the high school basketball player from Perham.
As of late Sunday, more than 34,000 had visited a web site that is tracking Gabbard's progress since he collapsed Thursday during a basketball game in Glyndon, Minn.
Meanwhile, those back in Perham set up a candlelight vigil at the high school to keep the well wishes alive throughout the night. Students posted messages on a bulletin board and placed a Perham jersey, a basketball, stuffed animals and more.
On Sunday afternoon, Calvary Lutheran Church in Perham also hosted a prayer gathering for Gabbard.
Gabbard underwent heart surgery at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, though doctors have declined to provide specifics about his diagnosis.
Gabbard's family is providing updates on his condition on the CaringBridge.com website.
On Sunday, a posting left on Gabbard's on-line journal said he remained in critical condition, but was stable enough to be transferred to the University of Minnesota to receive specialized care.
"Keep the prayers coming for a safe transfer and more positive progress," the posting said.
More than 1,000 of those who visited the CaringBridge website left messages for Gabbard and his family.
A couple from Scottsdale, Ariz., submitted this message Sunday afternoon:
"Please know you are all in our prayers. Zach sounds like a strong young man and is surrounded by so much love and support from so many people.
"With everyone praying for Zach we know God will hear our plea's and bestow his miracles on him," the note said.
Another visitor left these thoughts:
"You do not know me, but my prayers are with your family each and every day.
"Just remember you need to keep up your own strength, to be able to be there for him. Blessings to you all," the writer stated.
Another post, signed by "A Dilworth family," expressed disappointment that they could not attend the prayer gathering in Perham:
"For all of us who cannot be in Perham to gather and pray for Zach and his family, we are asking you all to stop, light a candle and pray for this amazing young man who has captured the hearts of people all over not just Minnesota, but the country!"
Signs of response
In an on-line note posted Sunday afternoon, Gabbard's family said all of the prayers appear to be helping and they encouraged well-wishers to keep it up.
"Last night was a very good night overall and Zach is starting to show signs of response," the note said.
"So, continue to keep your prayers and thoughts coming this way as it seems to be working."
-EOT Focus staff writer Ashley Bergen contributed to this report.