Monday, October 12, 2015

An Honorary Owl

In her first college starts, Grace is officially 2-0, and she loved every minute of it.

With a little help from Uncle Daniel and Aunt Monica, Grace officially became a William Woods University Owl this weekend, getting an honorary start for both the women's soccer and volleyball teams. Aunt Monica is the head volleyball coach for the Owls, based in Fulton, MO, and Uncle Daniel volunteers with the women's soccer program.

Grace was the honorary starter for both the William Woods University women's soccer and volleyball teams this weekend.
 A few weeks ago, Kyle texted Daniel to see if he thought Monica would be interested in hosting an INAD awareness game.  But as it turns out, Monica and Daniel already had that in the works!  They were just finalizing a few details.  Kyle and I are really hoping to raise more awareness about INAD in the coming weeks and months, and have a few more ideas up our sleeves too.

Grace was all smiles with cousin Keelen before the game.
We got more and more excited as the weekend drew closer, until we were finally on our way across I-70 headed for Fulton on Saturday, Oct. 10. Although it's a route I know well from my Mizzou days, Kyle and I hadn't made that trip in several years.  It still takes every bit of three hours to get there.

It was fun getting to meet the women's soccer team!
We arrived at the William Woods University soccer field around lunchtime, where the two teams were hosting a tailgate luncheon as part of the fundraiser.  They had hamburgers and brats, potato salad, cole slaw and several chocolate desserts made by Aunt Monica. Needless to say, those were Grace's favorites. She even had a piece of Texas cake for breakfast on Sunday before we headed home.

Chilling out during the game with daddy, grandma and Kayley.
Before the game started, we took Grace down to meet the soccer team. She enjoyed a few "fist bumps" with some of the players, and just loved all the attention they gave her.  She also had lots of smiles for cousin Keelen, who we hadn't seen since the Grace race.  Mommy even got some baby snuggles later on.

Grace loved her fan section during the volleyball game as well.
We also had a chance to pose for a photo with all the team members from both the soccer and volleyball teams inside the goal.  It was a sea of purple as Aunt Monica made shirts for everyone to wear, and I was so excited to get a new Grace shirt.  They shirts say William Woods athletics and Grace on the back.  It was really neat to watch both games and see Grace's name on the back of all the players' shirts.  Aunt Monica even found a purple headband for Grace to wear.

Such a sweet photo!!!
Then Grace was invited down to the field to be part of the starting line-up.  Each player's name was announced and at the very end, Grace was announced as an honorary starter for the team as part of the Goals for Grace event. In addition to the tailgate, soccer fans could pledge to donate an amount for each goal scored by the William Woods team that day, and all proceeds would go to the INAD study.  The final score was 3-1.

Grace was all smiles during the starting line-up.
As we settled in to watch the game, we noticed a few other familiar faces in the crowd, besides Grandma and Grandpa Herschelman. Aunt Angie Armour and cousins Kayley, Kensey and Katelyn made the road trip for the day as well in their pink Grace shirts.  It was fun to visit with everyone as we cheered on the Owls.

After loading up the tailgate supplies, it was time to head to the gym for the volleyball game. The purple continued as we entered the gym. We quickly saw large banners that read "INAD Awareness" and "We Love Grace" in purple letters. There were also purple streamers at the entrance to the gym and wrapped around all the poles in the bleachers.  We took a few photos, and then had a chance to visit with the players' families. One mom even worked at Washington University, so we were excited to share our experiences there.

After the game, the volleyball team posed under the INAD awareness banner.
As the warm-ups wrapped up, Grace was once again called to the floor to be part of the starting line-up. I was holding her with her head snuggled on my shoulder, but she really wanted to see and be part of what was going on, so I turned her around. She loved talking and smiling to the girls and even got to be part of the huddle.  As they broke apart, they yelled "For Grace!" I found myself a little teary eyed as we made our way back to the bleachers.

We sure do LOVE Grace!
We really enjoyed watching the game and the Owls win in three straight games. Since Fulton is a bit of a drive, we've only had a few chances to see Aunt Monica's team play. Grace was just a baby when they played in Springfield, and it was fun to watch her team in action again.

Grace had a great time practicing spiking the volleyball with daddy. She giggled the whole time!
As the final whistle sounded, Grace posed for a few more photos with the team and headed back to Aunt Monica and Uncle Daniel's new house for some pizza and a pajama party. Kyle even took a photo of cousin Keelen wearing a gracelet.

Cousin Keelen is all smiles wearing his gracelet.
Before we left, Monica said she thought the events raised between $600 and $700 for the INAD study at Washington University, which is super exciting.  We feel so fortunate to be able to contribute to this study and the future of the INAD children, through the generosity of each and every donor. Thanks to everyone who joined our "Grace-filled journey" this weekend.  We will never forget it.


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