McKinney ISD

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Connections Matter: Boyd Gets Behind a Brave MISD Kindergartner

Press Release|
Shane Mauldin|
Wednesday, December 1, 2021
McClure Elementary Assistant Principal Heather Piñero (center) and her sons Braxton (in Piñero's arms) and Chase (front) are flanked by members of the McKinney Boyd High School varsity football team as they walk toward the center of the field at MISD Stadium on October 1, for the pre-game coin toss. Braxton and Chase were named honorary captains during Boyd's "Red Out for Braxton the Brave," a show of support for 6-year-old Braxton who has battled cancer and is now facing a lung transplant. At halftime, Braxton was crowned Junior Homecoming King. (Photo: McKinney Boyd High School/Caroline Denning)

McClure Elementary Assistant Principal Heather Piñero (center) and her sons Braxton (in Piñero's arms) and Chase (front) are flanked by members of the McKinney Boyd High School varsity football team as they walk toward the center of the field at MISD Stadium on October 1, for the pre-game coin toss. Braxton and Chase were named honorary captains during Boyd's "Red Out for Braxton the Brave," a show of support for 6-year-old Braxton who has battled cancer and is now facing a lung transplant. At halftime, Braxton was crowned Junior Homecoming King. (Photo: McKinney Boyd High School/Caroline Denning)

McKinney, Texas – McKinney Boyd High School has dubbed him Braxton the Brave, and indeed young Braxton Piñero has already overcome tougher challenges than most of us will face in a lifetime.

Just 6 years old, the McClure Elementary kindergarten student and son of McClure Assistant Principal Heather Piñero and her husband Pedro, has already battled his way through cancer treatment. Now, he needs a lung transplant.

Along the journey, Piñero’s colleagues and other members of the community have rallied around Braxton, raising thousands in financial support and trying to help any way they can.

Piñero holding Braxton who is wearing a toy crown

McKinney Boyd Junior Homecoming King Braxton Piñero with his mother McClure Assistant Principal Heather Piñero at the Boyd Homecoming game on Oct. 1 at MISD Stadium. (Photo: McKinney Boyd High School/Caroline Denning)

McKinney Boyd High School Athletic Trainer Gary Hutto heard about Braxton and brought his story to Boyd Principal Dr. Jennifer Peirson with the idea that maybe their school could do something special for him. When Peirson shared the idea with student leaders, they were eager to let Braxton know that they were in his corner, too.

So, at their Homecoming game in October, Boyd staged a ‘Red Out for Braxton the Brave’ and made Braxton and his brother Chase honorary team captains for the coin toss at the start of the game. At half-time, they were ushered again to the middle of the field, and Braxton was crowned the McKinney Boyd Junior Homecoming King.

“When I brought this to our student council, they immediately jumped right onboard with it,” said Peirson of the effort. “It was great to see Braxton’s face light up and to be a part of something and kind of forget that life is tough sometimes—just to be able to escape that for a little bit,” added Peirson. “It was great to see that when we talked about doing this for Braxton, immediately, all these different groups—the cheerleaders, the coaches, the students—said, ‘Yes!’”

cheerleaders in a group around Chase and Braxton

Chase and Braxton Piñero (center) and the McKinney Boyd cheerleaders. (Photo: McKinney Boyd High School)

For Piñero, the event was a powerful gesture of support. “It was really amazing,” she said. “We had a teacher here at McClure that actually got Braxton a homecoming mum that was his size, so that was a nice surprise. And, he had his [Boyd] Red Nation shirt … [The boys] just had so much fun. Braxton hadn’t been to a game. We didn’t intend to stay and sit in the stands, but we ended up staying because he said, ‘I don’t want to leave my friends here.’ It’s the human connection. He’s homebound right now, so he misses that piece. He had so much fun with it.”

Piñero said with a laugh that Braxton’s favorite part of the event “was meeting the cheerleaders.”

“It meant the world to us, the community of support,” she said. “It’s one of those situations that you never want to find yourself in, but you have these weird moments of gratitude through the situation, too,” said Piñero. “You look at this outpouring of support and love from the community, and it just leaves you with such a warm feeling in your heart because you know that they are there and they have your back. You know that these people will do anything for you. You see how much they care and the love [they have] for your family.”

A little over a week ago on Nov. 19, the students of McClure Elementary made their way through the school’s doors to join their waiting parents and begin their Thanksgiving break. But, for Piñero, the beginning of the holiday marked the conclusion of 8 years in McKinney ISD, a run in which she served as an elementary classroom teacher, instructional coach and an assistant principal. By the time you read this, Piñero and her family will be in a new home, out of state, so they can be close to the transplant hospital that will treat Braxton.

As Braxton begins the next leg of his journey, he’ll remember a special evening at MISD Stadium where a sea of students in red encouraged him to keep going.

And maybe when they face a tough stretch of their own, those students will remember the courage and fortitude of a 6 year old boy.

“That night served our hearts in two purposes,” Peirson said. “It served Braxton’s family, but it also served our kids because they need to see that sometimes life hands us some stuff, and you’ve got to figure out how to get through it and do something to help other people.”

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