Cory Dean has been in the hospital since he had an accident on the way to catch a bus to a basketball game. Dean remained in critical condition for some time, but has recently made great strides in his condition.
"He's doing very well," said North Putnam basketball coach Wes Peek.
Dean is now at St. Vincent Hospital and beginning physical and speech rehabilitation. On Monday, he even got a visit from Peyton Manning.
His coaches and teammates are most encouraged by Dean's renewed ability to interact with them when they visit.
"Personality-wise, he's Cory," Peek said. "Everybody is pretty optimistic he'll make as close to a full recovery as we can guess right now."
Considering the road to recovery Dean is facing, the financial strain to his family will likely be great. With this in mind, the North Putnam community has organized a number of fundraisers to help defray the costs to the family.
The first of these was selling North Putnam basketball die-cuts for automobile windows. The coaching staff made a deal that if 2,000 of these were sold, they would shave their heads to match Dean's haircut.
"We sold a ton of them in a really short amount of time," Peek said.
The coaches paid up on their pledge Tuesday night during a chili supper organized for Dean's benefit. As supporters enjoyed their chili before the Cougars took on Riverton Parke, they also got to watch the coaches' hair hit the floor of the middle school commons.
One-by-one, they lined up to have their heads shaved by Principal Alan Zerkel.
Coaches Wes Peek, Jason Chew, Tony Riggen, Steve Peek and Craig Franklin all donned new haircuts to match Dean's.
The reviews were mixed on how the coaches looked with their new hairdos, but no one could say they hadn't cut their hair for a worthy cause.
Zerkel isn't just the one handing out the haircuts, though. He, Assistant Principal Scott Spencer, Superintendent Murray Pride and Athletic Director Jason Sims all agreed to shave their heads if 500 bracelets supporting Dean were sold.
That goal was also reached quickly.
"We blew that away pretty fast," Peek said.
The administrators will have their heads shaved in the gym during a pep session after the first of the year.