Article by Ryan Wronkowicz, Lourdes SID
When Lourdes women's volleyball program took to the court last Wednesday (Sept. 12) against Madonna, the Gray Wolves were not just taking on the Crusaders. They were also helping to battle progeria, a rare genetic disease characterized by premature and accelerated aging.
The Gray Wolves raised money to help the Progeria Research Foundation's search for a cure, selling Lourdes volleyball t-shirts as well as setting up collection cans before and during the match. The team also honored Kaylee
Halko, a nine-year from Northwest Ohio affected by the disease.
"I had a very nice time," Kaylee said after the match. "It was really cool that the team tied the game up so many times. The girls are really nice and super cool to be around."
Lourdes fell to Madonna 25-18, 25-16, 25-23, but set three saw 13 ties and three lead changes, much to the excitement of Kaylee.
This was the second consecutive year that Lourdes has helped raise money for the disease that affects just one out of eight million children. There are currently 92 known cases in the world, including 16 cases in the United States. The children will age eight to 10 times faster than people without the disease, and will suffer from symptoms such as loss of hair and body fat, stiffness of the joints, and heart disease.
"It means a lot to me, as a graduate of Lourdes, to see the school and especially this team support both my daughter and the Progeria Research Foundation," Tim Halko, Kaylee's dad said. "She loves coming to things like this and seeing the volleyball girls. It makes her feel special."
Kaylee, born in 2003, the same year the Progeria gene was found, and diagnosed with the disease one year later. The free-spirited girl was running around the court after the match spiking the volleyball over the lowered net, having fun like any other nine-year old girl would.
"She is just the happiest person," Lourdes senior libero Kirstin Kirk said. "She enjoys life and makes everyone smile. She's such an amazing little girl. This is the second year our team has been able to raise money for the disease and be around her and I'm so glad we have had the opportunity to do it. It also makes us appreciate what we have even more."
Lourdes assistance in helping to raise money for the Progeria Research Foundation is not over now that the match is though. The Gray Wolves will be helping with "Kaylee's Course", a 5K race and two mile walk on Oct. 13 which takes place at Monclova Primary School beginning at 10 a.m.
"It is great for us to use our platform to benefit a great cause," Lourdes head coach Greg Reitz stated. "Meeting Kaylee as well as her family has been great for our programs as well as individuals. We're looking forward to seeing them again in a couple weeks when we are able to help out at Kaylee's Course."
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