Chicago Cubs player Anthony Rizzo posted a heartwarming message of support to a young boy who was severely beaten by another student at a suburban middle school last week.
"Heard you are a big @Cubs fan Henry," Rizzo tweeted at the young Kenyon Woods middle schooler. "When you are better I have a couple tickets and BP passes waiting for you at Wrigley. #StayStrong."
Twelve-year-old Henry Sembner was in a coma over the weekend after being severely beaten by another student in the hallway of his Elgin middle school.
Kenyon Woods Middle School Principal Lisa Olsem said the young boy was “assaulted by another student” just before noon Friday. He suffered severe injuries and was taken to Presence St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin before being transferred to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.
“I spent time with the family of the injured student at the hospital this afternoon and will remain in close contact with them,” Olsem wrote in a letter to parents Friday. “The alleged attacker, [sic] was arrested and transported to South Elgin Police Department.”
The boy remained in the intensive care unit Sunday. According to a Caring Bridge account created by the family to update on his progress, Sembdner woke from his coma Sunday.
“They just removed the intubation and guess what he said,” his mother Karen DeWilde Sembdner wrote. “’I’m Hungry!’”
On Tuesday, students and supporters of Henry wore Cubs gear to show their support, a movement that also caught Rizzo's attention.
"Heard Henry's school will be wearing @Cubs gear tom to show their support," Rizzo tweeted again. "Wear ur gear & I'll RT pics.Let's all show our support #StayStrong."
At the Elgin school district meeting Monday night, a student board member wore green, a symbol officials say is meant to represent hope. Others throughout the district also wore the color in support after the brutal beating.
That support, the district’s CEO says, is not one-sided.
“Not only do we support Henry, but we also support the student who allegedly caused this—we support him through counseling,” Tony Sanders said.
A school official also touched on what might have caused the incident.
“The student was bumped, or somehow bumped into the other student, that student then became aggressive in a very short couple of seconds and injured the young man,” said John Heiderscheidt, the district’s director of safety.
A GoFundMe page created by Sembdner’s aunt also claims the young boy was going into a crowded hallway at school and “bumped into someone.”
“The kid grabbed him and slammed him into the ground,” Crystal Sembdner Mims wrote. “A wonderful child is in the hospital for no reason.”
South Elgin police said an investigation remained ongoing and would be turned over to the Kane County State's Attorney's Office when it has been completed, noting that it is a priority for the department.
Police Chief Jerry Krawczyk said the suspect is in middle school but did not give an age.
"This case makes me sad as a dad," Krawczyk said. "I've never seen a case like this involving children resulting in such severe injuries."