Monday, October 26, 2015

A Great Night To Be A Lancer

It was a great night to be a fan of the Lincolnwood Lancer volleyball team.

After honoring four senior players and their families, the team quickly defeated rival Staunton in just two games.  With a 31-3 record this season, these Lady Lancers have proven to be one of the best teams in school history.

Those Lady Lancers sure do LOVE Grace!  Senior team members presented Grace with a check from this year's Serving for Grace fundraiser.
However, it's their success off the courts that makes their story even more special.

Earlier this year, Lincolnwood volleyball coach Kimberly Denney was one of the very first to reach out to us about honoring Grace at a junior high volleyball game. Kyle's cousins, Kayley and Kensey Armour, were eighth graders on the team, which made it extra special.  The team presented Grace with her very own Lancer gear, as well as some Disney princess presents.  The teams also hosted "Serving for Grace" fundraisers at all their home games to raise money for the INAD study.  Although we didn't get to as many games as we had hoped, it was still such a special season for us.

Grace had fun hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa Galer at the game.
When the high school season started this fall, Coach Denney told Kyle they were planning the Serving for Grace fundraisers again, and we made plans to attend senior night on Oct. 22.

One thing that's been really neat about all the Volley for Grace nights is that Lincolnwood has always been there. They were the opposing team at both Morrisonville and Hillsboro, and have always been there to support us. Kayley and Kensey are now freshmen, so we have enjoyed cheering them on as well.

A special hug from Coach Denney.
Although we are almost always late, we tried to arrive to the senior night game in time to see the Armour  twins take the court in the JV game.  It will be fun to watch them over the next several years.

Then, the three of us were invited to center court between games for a special presentation.  Kyle and I were again wearing our Fight the Fight Volley for Grace shirts, and Grace wore her special Lincolnwood and Hillsboro softball shirt from a game earlier this spring.

The first graders at Farmersville Grade School giving Grace their check.
Coach Denney shared a little bit about the love the Lincolnwood family has for Grace, which started when Kayley and Kensey shared her diagnosis with their team last winter. The coach added that the volleyball team is also a family that shares its ups and downs with other team members, and are glad to see the love Kayley and Kensey have for Grace. She also said the school has a huge heart for Grace's dad, who is a Lincolnwood alumnus, and covers all of the school's sports teams week in and week out.

"So what do you do when you love someone and they are hurting or need help?" Coach Denney asked. "You give them a hug, words of encouragement, and then go to battle to help them."

Meeting the fifth graders from Raymond Grade School.
We are so grateful to our friends at Lincolnwood that continue to fight this fight with us each and every day.  In addition to the Serving for Grace fundraisers throughout the volleyball season, the entire school district hosted a penny wars competition, where the winning class in each school got to present Grace with a check tied to a purple balloon.

Coach Denney said they would continue to raise awareness and funding for INAD research throughout Grace's journey. She added that the penny wars competition also sparked discussions outside school about putting the needs of others ahead of their own.

Grace got a very special hug from Coach Denney's son, Justin.
"In my own home, we had a conversation about the limitations of money because my own son asked how many pennies it would take for Grace to get better," Coach Denney said. "He would have given his entire bank account to make that happen."

Although I usually manage to stay pretty composed during the Grace events, it was that comment that caught a few tears sneak down my cheeks. We have been touched over and over again by this community's generosity and the love they share for Grace. Coach Denney said that empathy for others is one of the greatest gifts Grace has been able to share with her community, and it's something we can all take a lesson in.

Cousins Kayley and Kensey got to present the check from the junior and senior high school.
One by one the classes brought checks to Grace. First is was the senior volleyball players and their Serving for Grace money. Then came the first grade students from Farmersville Grade School. At Raymond Grade School, it was the fifth grade class, including Coach Denney's son, Justin, who gave Grace a big hug after he presented the check.  At the junior high and high school, it was Kayley and Kensey's first hour class that raised the most. I think they made sure they were the ones that got to give the check to Grace.

Kayley and Kensey made sure Grace got a cupcake after the game too!
All in all, we brought home nearly $3,000 for the INAD research study last Thursday night. It's a true gift that will not only help Grace but kids battling INAD now and in the future. With such kind and giving hearts, we know we will find a way to #beatINAD.


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