I can vividly recall a lot from my days on the basketball team at my high school, Sacred Heart-Griffin. And one of those things is the distinct words of my coach that he would always be there for us.
I hadn't seen my coach in probably close to 10 years when I got a call from my dad that Coach Farris had dropped by to see him and wanted to do something for Brenna. He now coaches the Auburn High School girls basketball team (Auburn is about 10 miles from Springfield), and together with his team, they organized the "Playing for Brenna" fundraiser at their game last night.
Basketball has always been a huge part of my life. I started playing when I was 6 years old...although unfortunately for me, I was always a bit height and weight challenged (Brenna comes by it honestly), so I wasn't as much the dominating presence on the court as I would have liked to be :)
On the surface, it's just a game. And just a high school team. But my former teammates are my life-long friends. And what I learned during that experience has helped carry me through life - hard work, discipline, respect for others, getting along, making sacrifices and the importance of attitude.
Last night a community who didn't even know us came together for Brenna, putting so many hours of effort and thoughtfulness in to creating a wonderful night for our family. A team who has never met us jumped on board to do something for someone who played for their coach long before them (well, not THAT long ago, right? :) )
a Welcome Brenna sign
Evan and I got to talk with both the JV and Varsity teams before their games and share our story and explain about Brenna's condition. In just our brief meeting and in watching their games, I can tell this is a group of young ladies who will go far in life. At the beginning of the game, they presented Brenna with a basketball they had all signed.
She even got her name on the scoreboard :)
including a bunch of my former teammates and best friends...
Before the game, Coach Farris started calling people out from the crowd to shoot from different spots in order to win money for Brenna. He got my dad out on the court...and Dad most decidedly did not bring his A game. I think there were a few airballs out there ;)
Before the teams warmed up, Coach Farris explained to the crowd that his team often gathers around the center circle of the court to talk not only about basketball, but about life. Conversations about Brenna and their fundraiser took place around that circle in the middle. And then he put some money down in the circle and invited anyone who wanted to contribute to come down while the teams warmed up. A little girl immediately ran to the middle with her money, and then the crowd flooded the floor. It was so touching.
Everyone heading to the court to give to Brenna
And finally, here's the star of the show. Both kids did so well the whole night, especially considering the game started at Brenna's bedtime!
We want to extend SO MANY THANK YOUS to our family and friends who attended the game, to the Auburn community who came out as well, and especially to Coach Dave Farris and his team for all of the hard work they put into such a successful and wonderful evening.
Another highlight of the night was getting to meet another player formerly coached by Coach Farris many moons ago...Christy Bailey lost her precious son Ryken almost exactly two years ago to a rare, aggressive brain tumor and now runs the Ryken Bailey Foundation, which provides financial assistance to central Illinois families who have children with serious health conditions. Coach Farris told me that Christy was the first person to call him asking how she could help with the event.
I realized at the end of the night after we got home that we didn't get a photo with Coach Farris, and I was SO disappointed. So I guess I'll have to pull out this gem of a picture from 11 years ago :)
This is after our high school senior night game...here's Coach Farris with the five seniors. I'm on the end.
Thank you Auburn Girls Basketball, for playing for Brenna!!