Skyline girls hit home runs for fight against cancer

May 11, 2010

By Christopher Huber

When the Skyline High School girls softball team heard about Meadowdale High School’s Ashley Aven’s harrowing battle against leukemia, right away, team members knew they had to do something.

Aven had to quit her team and go through months of chemotherapy. Her family has struggled to finance the treatment, according to Skyline team members familiar with her story.

“We decided we need to step up and help out,” junior shortstop Lindsey Nicholson said.

So, the girls and their families held Home Runs for Help on May 6 after their game against Redmond. At the event, Skyline softball players hit as many home runs as they could. Before hand, they raised donations or gathered pledges per home run hit, said team leaders Nicholson and Lauren Wolfe.

During the week leading up to the home run derby, the Spartans raised more than $1,000 to help the Aven family, they said, and much more was rolling in, with company matches from Microsoft and various other organizations and families. When it was all said and done, the team raised nearly $6,000, event organizer Shawna Dunn said.

The girls said Aven’s story of hope and perseverance — she still coaches a little bit at Meadowdale — struck such a chord because high school softball is a close-knit group.

“They realize it’s a very small community,” said Allison Mitchell, Skyline’s head coach. “That’s something no kid should have to go through. It really kind of hits them.”

Mitchell said the key to such a strong fundraising effort was that all team members got excited about it, appealing to all of their friends and family and their coworkers for help. Mitchell’s father even pledged $30 per home run hit, she said. Players hit 58 home runs.

The goal for each player was to hit as many home runs in 25 hits as they could.

Nicholson, who set a goal of 15-20 home runs, hit 13 and led the team. Anya Kamber and Mickey Dunn-Blad each had seven. Margo Erwin hit six home runs and Amy Ziegler hit five.

Skyline was also successful because the girls tried to one-up each other in their donation-garnering efforts all week, Wolfe and Nicholson said.

“Anybody can help. You can make a difference. I think we underestimate people, because they care,” Wolfe said before the derby.

The Bothell softball team was scheduled to compete against Skyline players in the fundraiser event, but the Cougars could not attend due to having to make up rained out games. However, Skyline players said other teams in the area are still planning to sponsor events to help the Aven family, such as a Wiffle ball tournament. Redmond is holding a car wash to raise money for the Aven family, too.

Skyline will continue its efforts by having donation buckets at games, Dunn said. The goal is to collect 200 paper softballs with donors’ names on them, to string around Aven’s room in Lynnwood.

“Don’t be afraid to step up and help someone out,” Wolfe said. “If (Aven) can fight like that for herself, we should fight with her.”

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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