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Article posted: 2/13/2013 4:40 AM

To a great Wheaton coach and team

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To a great Wheaton coach and team

To the Wheaton North Girls Varsity Basketball Team and Coach Dave Eaton:

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Your coach recruited a girl to be your teams honorary manager. You may have thought why bother -- but for some reason Coach Eaton thought it would be a good idea. This girl was Lily Peckenpaugh, and she has autism -- but you welcomed her in and helped her adapt.

She was given jobs that would help the team and make your work easier. She was told to keep you positive, cheer you on, and be a team player -- which she did. You taught her to laugh (she laughed when you laughed), and that it's OK to be sad (and even cry). Most importantly you taught her to be confident and secure in being herself.

She called you her "girls" and you were her "team" (even though she plays Special Olympics basketball on a team) and she couldn't have been prouder.

You all made being a Wheaton North High School senior the best thing in the world to a 17 year old autistic girl who wanted friends, but didn't know how to get them. Thank you for letting Lily onto your team -- and getting into her heart (and ours).

Kim and Dan Peckenpaugh

Wheaton

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