Friday, September 23, 2016

Volley for Grace - Night One

Oh what a night!

We had so much fun at this season's first Volley for Grace night Thursday night, Sept. 15, when the Hillsboro Lady Hiltoppers hosted the Vandalia Vandals. Technically, this was supposed to be the second of three Volley for Grace nights, but Lincolnwood High School was without power one night last week, so their game against Morrisonville has been rescheduled.

The bake sale and some of the goodies Grace got to take home!
All four high school teams participating in this year's Volley for Grace games (Hillsboro, Vandalia, Lincolnwood and Morrisonville), joined together in creating new purple and white shirts, and the teams gathered a total of 61 sponsors to help fund INAD research.  

Grace and her friend, Dahlia, before the game!
Wearing our new shirts, we arrived at the high school during the junior varsity game. The most striking thing walking into the gym was that instead of seeing orange and black for Hillsboro and red and white for Vandalia, the gym was a sea of purple for Grace.  It was really awesome.

Grace helped me pick out some treats at the bake sale.
In the lobby, parents had set up a bake sale by donation to raise money for INAD and we had the chance to see some of our Grace-Filled Journey scarves.  Before the start of the varsity game, we picked out some bake sale items, and they were delicious.

Presenting checks for INAD research before the game.
Just before the start of the varsity game, the announcer called us to the gym floor.  Grace and I went out, and Kyle arrived a little late at the game because he was covering a meeting. The two coaches and a player presented us with checks from their sponsorships, totalling $1,500. Each team had also taken a team photo with Grace, and presented us with a framed and signed copy for our house. It was pretty special.

Getting to share our story and say thanks to the crowd.
As we headed off the floor, one of the Toppers biggest fans, known for leading the infamous "TOPP-ERS" cheer, started a new cheer across the gym.  He yelled out "Amazing," and the student section yelled back "Grace." I have to admit it brought a few tears to my eyes on such a special night.

The players wore purple ribbons and socks during the game!
The Hiltopper student section was decked out in purple too!
One of the Hillsboro players had asked if Grace could give high-fives to the starting line-up, and we were thrilled.  Many of the players had worn special purple socks and purple ribbons in their hair.  Grace and I stood mid-court, and wished good luck to all the players on both teams, giving a high-five before the start of the game.

Our friend, Rich Bauer at the Vandalia Leader Union, captured this special moment before the game.
Just before the start of the varsity game, one of the Hillsboro student fans gave Grace some purple beads to wear during the game. When I looked up, she had purple writing down her legs.  One said "Grace," and the other said "Beat INAD." It's really neat to see the students so excited about helping out our cause.

Grace and the awesome volleyball coaches!
All too soon, the game was over.  Hillsboro would win in two games, but the outcome of the game wasn't nearly as important as the hearts of the players, who have so graciously joined A Grace-Filled Journey. With the bake sale raising just over $400, the night raised a total of almost $2,000 to benefit INAD research.  We feel so blessed to help support research that we know will make a difference in the lives of INAD families for years to come.

Hanging out with Betsy before the game!
Family photo op after the Volley for Grace game!
If you missed out on the first game, you have two more chances to be inspired by the generous hearts of our local high school teams. On Monday evening, Oct. 3, Lincolnwood will host Hillsboro in Raymond for another special Volley for Grace night. They will also host Morrisonville on Tuesday, Oct. 18, for the final fundraising event of the season. If you have a chance, stop by one of the games and wear your favorite purple clothing. I promise you will be inspired by players and coahces who know there is so much more to life than winning and losing. It will be a night you will never forget. I know we won't.


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