The women’s softball team, led by coach Brandon Elliot, raised a whopping $20,004 for the American Cancer Society this year through their annual Strike Out Cancer event. After 9 years of running the event, the team has raised over $100,000 in all.
A few of the players, including freshmen Hanna Hull and Kayla Duplain, were sitting around a table in the Grill when they heard the final tally.
“We all yelled, I heard everyone who was sitting here all like ‘yeah!’ and [they] were screaming,” Duplain said. “I never thought we would raise that much.”
For the women’s softball team, supporting cancer research is about more than just community service, it is about supporting loved ones close to home, specifically, their teammate Madison Glaubke, whose mother is currently battling lymphoma.
“I love all the attention that it [the Strike Out Cancer Event] brings to cancer itself and the lives it’s touched… not just the people who have survived it, but just the caregivers and the family members…it touches more people than you actually think it does,” Duplain said.
Every year, a different name appears on the jersey the players wear during the fundraising game. This year, the name on the jersey honored Glaubke’s mom. Because of her health, Glaubke’s mom can’t be in public places and hasn’t seen Glaubke play in a while. For Madison, having her mother’s name on the jersey made it feel like her mother was there with her.
“Just to look down and see my last name on my jersey.. it was like she was there at the game with me, watching over me and telling me what to do… telling me to calm down because I’m a strong player and no one thinks anything less of me,” Glaubke said.
Glaubke decided to attend VWC, which is close to her parent’s home, in part because of her mother’s diagnosis. However, a huge part of her decision was fostered by the recruitment of Elliot.
“Coach Elliot and I have a stronger relationship than most of the team just because…my dad is actually one of his good friends. I’ve known Coach Elliot for a while,” Glaubke said.
Elliot’s mother passed away after a fight with cancer a few years ago. He uses his experiences to support Glaubke as she watches her mother battle cancer.
“He keeps telling me like, God must have put me here for a reason because like he’s gone through this before so he’s here to help guide me through all this stuff, I’m able to talk to him through whatever I need to talk about,” Glaubke said.
The softball team all work hard to make Glaubke feel supported. This month, they gave her a gift box with letters and gifts in it to encourage her. Glaubke expressed gratitude towards her team for their support.
“I have 18 therapists on my team… I’m not saying I’m against going to therapy but…I don’t really need someone to talk to when I have my teammates and my best friend,” Glaubke said.
Duplain and Hull, two of Glaubke’s closest friends on the team, said watching Glaubke go through this has taught them how to be overcomers.
“If you didn’t know what was going on with Maddy and you looked at her, you would think that everything is [fine],” Duplain said.
Duplain stressed that Glaubke’s attitude, even with everything she has going on, is better than everyone else’s. She works hard to win and puts everything on the field.
“Being on the field helps me get my mind off things,” Glaubke said.
Softball has become not only a distraction, put a thing Glaubke can rely on for support.
“Everyone wants to buy a “Glaubke strong” shirt and that really meant a lot to me,” Glaubke said.
Elliot’s players all stress that he is the reason the Strike Out Cancer event has been so successful.
“He was the mastermind behind it all,” Hull said.
Elliot provided his players with lists of companies to call including restaurants and retail stores. Companies could donate money or an item to the silent auction. Lula Roe donated a goody basket and one restaurant that Duplain called donated a cookbook.
The team is already coming up with ways to improve the event for next year. Hull and Duplain noted that a lot of companies said they should have been notified about the event earlier and they would have then been more likely to donate.
(photos: Sammy Espejo ’18 | @ShotsBySamms)