The Butts County youth soccer community turned out Thursday night, Oct. 15, to honor one of their own who is battling colon cancer.

Robert Harper has been coaching the 14-under Butts County Megs boys soccer team since they were 10 years old, and this season also took on coaching the 8-under girls soccer team that his youngest daughter plays on.

Harper is now battling colon cancer and has had to give up his coaching duties, although he still tried to come to the games and his daughter’s practices.

Thursday night, players and their families from many of the teams in the league turned out to honor Harper at Daughtry Recreation Park, many of them wearing t-shirts with the hashtag #RobertStrong printed on the front.

“He’s just a great guy,” said Jillian Bouchard, program manager for Butts County Department of Leisure Services. “Honestly, he’s not even from Butts County; they live in Locust Grove. But they took a chance on my program and came down here, and he grew a soccer family here. These boys love him just like a dad, and he loves them. So last night was pretty special.”

Beth Ivey has three of her sons on the Megs, and said Harper is loved and respected by everyone.

“I can attest that he has a true servant spirit and is a humble volunteer, outstanding coach and all-around great person,” Ivey said. “Last night was an unbelievable demonstration of community support within the recreation department.”

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