A Virginia community has found a special way to honor a teenager who drowned over the summer.
The Loudoun County School Board voted unanimously to rename the Riverside High School stadium after 16-year-old Fitz Thomas.
News4's Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey has been covering this side of the state since joining NBC4 in 1992. She's joined by reporter Drew Wilder.
The field will now be called Fitz Alexander Campbell Thomas Memorial Stadium or FACT Field.
Thomas' mother, who fought for changes to the local emergency response system after her son’s death, praised the change.
“As a mother, I feel supported, I feel loved, I feel like the community is lifting me up,” Michelle Thomas said.
“He was a uniter,” Fitz’ friend Christian Yohannes remembered. “You hear people say you don’t care about race, creed, whatever it may be, but Fitz truly embodied that.”
More than 6,000 people signed the online petition, which was started entirely by students.
This will be the first athletic field in Loudoun County named after an African American.
Fitz drowned while swimming across Goose Creek back in June. After his death, friends and family fought for changes in both Virginia and Maryland after the emergency response was delayed because of misrouted emergency calls.