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Pattonsburg Rallies Around Coach Battling Cancer

After serving the Pattonsburg High School for 32 years, the community is now working to help Jeff Bowland.

(PATTONSBURG, Mo.) For 32 years, Jeff Bowland's been synonymous with Pattonsburg High School.

He's coached six different sports, and won nearly 20 conference championships, while also serving as athletic director, and even driving the school bus.

"At one time I coached boys and girls softball, junior high basketball, varsity basketball--boys and girls--and then junior high and high school track," Bowland recalled while thinking of his early years at Pattonsburg.

"Throughout the '80s and mid '90s he had one of the more dominant teams in the HDC and even northwest Missouri at times," Pattonsburg principal John Silkett said of Bowland's squads.

But Bowland was dealt a blow just before Christmas of 2012 that would force him to step away from the school.

"Went to the doctor, and they checked me and said my liver felt funny, so I went and did a scan,"  Bowland said. "From that scan, the next day she came in and said 'you have a mass on your colon and it's spreading to your liver.'"

"It definitely turned my world upside down at first," Bowland's daughter Becca said when she first learned that her father had cancer. "I'll never forget right where I was the day he told me that they found the tumor."

But Bowland never lost his competitive spirit.

He's fighting endocrine cancer, and is already through four rounds of chemotherapy.

Now the community that followed Bowland's basketball team to state in 1990 is backing him in his battle.

"He is an amazing man. He just is. He is the Pattonsburg Panther," booster club president Pam Plymell said.

One hundred-percent of the proceeds from the school's annual alumni tournament will go toward Bowland's medical expenses.

"Pretty overwhelming just to see the love from family, community, church, just everybody," Bowland said.

"It's just really awesome for me to see that they just really want to help us and support us through this," Becca said.

The man that's dedicated his professional career to Pattonsburg hopes to make his return as a track and field coach this Spring.

"You don't realize it until you're away from it how much you miss the kids and everything," Bowland said.

Two and a half months after having their worst nightmare come true, the Bowland's are that much closer to winning their biggest contest.

"It's been a rollercoaster ride," Becca said, "but we're making it."

The alumni tournament benefiting the Pattonsburg athletic director begins Friday evening, with a silent auction beginning at 4:30pm.
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