FORT MYERS, Fla. - The eleven year-old student from Southwest Florida Christian Academy who was struck by lightning remains in critical condition at Tampa General Hospital. Jesse Watlington was on the minds of fellow athletes Friday night, with some schools offering up prayers and moments of silence before kickoff.
Friday, Watlington's father described the devastating incident, and the difficult injuries he's dealing with. "He's by the grace of God, lucky to be alive," Chuck Watlington said. "He was struck in the chest with lightning. The lightning bolt exited out of his left foot and also his right leg. The lightning bolt hit him directly in the heart."
Watlington said his family is overwhelmed with gratitude by the tens of thousands who've reached out in support.
"We need all the possible prayer we can possibly get and we ask for just continued prayer, and for him to regain consciousness," Chuck Watlington said. "He's a little boy who's never misbehaved in his whole life. He's the sweetest quietest little kid. Everybody loves him."
Flashes of lighting delayed the football game at Evangelical Christian School in Fort Myers Friday night. The team and fans took shelter, each bolt, a bold reminder of they boy they'd planned to dedicate a special pre-game prayer to. Prayers are echoing around the world for Jesse Watlington. Mcgregor Baptist Church Head Pastor Dr. Richard Powell said they've gotten calls of support from as far away as Brazil.
Powell said students have struggled with Jesse's absence, but they're supporting each other. "our high school football team simply got up out of their little huddle, and went over and just put their arms around their younger brothers, the middle school football team, and just prayed for him, and just cried with them and wept with them, and just big brother to little brother, did all they could to encourage them."
Donations made to "Jesse's Fund" can be brought to McGregor Baptist Church or Southwest Florida Christian Academy. Money will help the family pay for medical bills and other expenses.