Travis Jarrard met Tanner Lucero last year when North Forsyth’s wrestling coach was meeting that season’s new crop of eighth-grade wrestlers.
He didn’t know at that moment that he’d inadvertently give Lucero a nickname that will likely follow him through high school.
“In the wrestling program at North, we’ve always had nicknames for everybody,” Jarrard said. “Sometimes the nicknames stick, and sometimes they don’t. Last year, when I was trying to learn everybody’s name I said, ‘OK, what’s your name again?’ And he said Tanner, but he kind of mumbled a little bit as an eighth-grader would, because he doesn’t want to talk in front of people. I thought he said ‘Cheddar.’
So, Lucero simply became known as ‘Cheddar.’
It’s the moniker many are using to refer to Lucero after the North Forsyth freshman suffered a stroke Tuesday morning at school.
According to North Forsyth athletic director Scott Tilden, Lucero arrived at school like any other day, did conditioning but said he wasn’t feeling right.
The school nurse called 911, and it was at Northside Hospital Forsyth that doctors determined Lucero had a blood clot in his brain and suggested he be transported to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
“It’s my understanding that he was doing well, talking well. The numbness has worn off on the side,” said Tilden, who traveled to the hospital this afternoon with Jarrard to visit with Lucero. “But they do believe he had a stroke and it was directly related to that condition that he has.”
Lucero is believed to have a rare condition called Moyamoya disease. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Moyamoya disease is a “rare, progressive cerebrovascular disorder caused by blocked arteries at the base of the brain in an area called the basal ganglia.”
Tilden said Lucero could be in the hospital for a couple of months.
Two North Forsyth students set up a GoFundMe on Tuesday to help offset the family’s medical expenses.
The GoFundMe’s original goal of $5,000 was surpassed fewer than 24 hours after the page was created.
“The Georgia wrestling community has pretty much sent that thing all over the country,” Jarrard said. “We heard from Wisconsin wrestling; the Dan Gable Museum reached out and contacted me, and they’re sending down an autographed Dan Gable singlet for us to auction off.”
Gable is a 15-time Division I national championship coach who led the University of Iowa’s wrestling program from 1976-97.
Lucero wrestled this year and also played on the Raiders’ freshman football team.
“He is wide-eyed, pretty funny, always has a smile on his face,” Jarrard said. “He’s that jovial, laughing kid that’s always having a good time.”