Published: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 05:16 PM.

The last several days have been spent working, sleeping and communicating updates on Mort's condition on Facebook.

Sunday, I made the trip to Alabama, stopping off in Summerdale to meet my best friend and teammate, Ken Hardy. Together, we made the trip to Mobile to visit Mort and share our love and support for him.

While visiting with him, we found out he needs help dealing with the cost associated with cancer. And now, Ken and I find ourselves looking at ideas for fundraisers as we come to the help of our friend.

We've already had several classmates, teammates and friends offer support, which doesn't surprise me. Gulf Breeze, like Laurel Hill, is a small, closely knit community, and that is especially true for those of us who grew up in the 1970s when our town and school were still young.  

But one doesn't have to be from Laurel Hill, Gulf Breeze, Baker or Crestview to appreciate the community and team's value. I'd dare say there are countless Katie Free and Mort Deer stories being written across this country. And in many cases, teammates are reaching out to pick their friend up.

One of the first things most athletes learn is it's not about me; it's about the we that comes with being a part of a team. My success means nothing if a teammate fails.

There is something about being on a team in the good times, and sharing the joy that comes with accomplishing something together. As the years have passed, I've realized that needing teammates and being a good teammate is as important 20, 30 or 40 years down the road, as it was those hot summer days so many years ago.

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