Reno High’s Parga changing lives in spare time

Published: Oct. 8, 2022 at 9:30 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - During the week Hayden Parga can be found on the football practice fields behind Reno High School.

The Huskies are back on track after a 48-7 blowout win against Galena Thursday night. When the quarterback isn’t working, he’s giving back.

“Everybody is facing a battle you know nothing about. If you can pick them up - even if you don’t know what they’re going through - and you can put a smile on their face, you can just love on them. It’s always going to make someone’s day,” Parga said.

Four years ago Parga heard about the Jessie Rees Foundation - an initiative to help kids with cancer fight the disease.

“It really just opened my heart up to loving other people and especially loving on these kids who are battling cancer,” said Parga. “I wanted to do something bigger than myself.”

Though Jessie passed away in 2012, one of her calling cards was putting together goodies for kids in the hospital. Now Hayden has taken over - stocking Joy Jars.

“They are filled with these toys and other activities and interactions for these kids that really just give them a boost of joy when they’re going through these treatments at the hospital and they can’t go home,” Parga described.

Hayden doesn’t help in silence. He’s sent cleats off to a custom designer to paint gold ribbons, the words Jessie Rees Foundation, and the acronym NEGU on them - which stands for Never Ever Give Up.

The loud colors make everyone he plays against take notice. Wearing his cleats against Damonte Ranch earlier this season had even more meaning, as Hayden’s friend, Mustangs quarterback Cooper Anderson, battled childhood cancer.

“Always good to compete against (Cooper), especially since we’re both quarterbacks,” Parga said.

Hayden’s goal is to raise $15,000 for the Jessie Rees Foundation by the end of the year.

If you’d like to help Hayden out, and children battling cancer, click here.