Top-notch soccer for a good cause
It worked so well the first time, they're doing it again.
The girls soccer teams from Neuqua Valley, Naperville Central, Waubonsie Valley and Naperville North will play March 20 in a doubleheader that doubles as an event to raise awareness of breast cancer.
"Four Schools, One Cause" will be held at North Central College in Naperville. Neuqua Valley plays Naperville North at 5 p.m. Wednesday and Waubonsie Valley faces Naperville Central at 7 p.m.
To start off, that's just great soccer. Neuqua Valley, Metea Valley and Naperville North all won regional championships in 2012, the Huskies going on to win the Class 3A title. On a whim throw Waubonsie in some less-loaded sectional and chances are they win a regional, too.
In between the two games, at about 6:45, there will be a program on the field with an address by Sharon Johnson, a breast cancer survivor and volunteer with the American Cancer Society and the Edward Cancer Center. Naperville Mayor George Pradel also is scheduled to attend at some point during the evening.
Following that, players from the four schools will come together on the field to form a "Survivor's Circle" to honor all cancer survivors. Those who are cancer survivors are invited to come to the field to receive flowers and recognition. Any youth players wearing their team jerseys receive free admission and are also invited to join the circle.
Laura Keefer, a breast cancer survivor who is the mother of Neuqua Valley junior goalkeeper Courtney Keefer, has been part of the "Four Schools" planning team each of the last two years. So has fellow cancer survivor Lisa Donlon, whose daughter, Shannon, is a senior on the team.
"It was just a special night and it really means a lot," said Laura Keefer, obviously hoping for better weather than what we've had this week. "We have a good time planning it and we feel blessed while we're there."
Each of the four high schools sold breast cancer awareness T-shirts to raise funds. Proceeds from those, along with event-day raffle sales for gift certificates and sports tickets, and a 50/50 raffle, will benefit the Edward Foundation and Edward Hospital Cancer Center.
Last year nearly $5,000 was raised, which Keefer said went to providing mammograms and also to Edward's summertime Camp Hope for children of cancer patients.
"The thing I always think back to from that circle," Courtney Keefer said, "is my friend Shannon Donlon and I, we've become close. And when we met (their mothers) in the circle it was really touching."
In last year's event, Naperville North beat Neuqua Valley 3-1. These athletes can effectively switch gears from competitive fire to solemn gratitude.
"We'll definitely be focusing on the game, but when the game's over, win or lose we'll definitely be focusing on the ceremony," Courtney said
For the 11th yearNaperville Central is throwing its annual Staff vs. Student basketball game, this year at 7 p.m. Tuesday. In a best-of-seven formatseven individual student teams will face one large roster of faculty members.
The student teams, which include one of volleyball players, another of J. Kyle Braid scholars and another of Special Olympics players, includes such athletes as football player Jimmy Nashert and boys basketball player Nicky Lopez.
They won't be guaranteed an easy win. The faculty has enlisted the services of a few ringers.
Along with Naperville Central principal Bill Wiesbrook, baseball coach Mike Stock, gymnastics coach Glen Reimers and boys volleyball coach Jeff Danbom, among many others, the faculty roster includes former Redhawks basketball stars Mike Wilson and Courtney Peters. Wilson is a social studies teacher, Peters — center on Andy Nussbaum's 2003 Class AA championship girls basketball team — is a special education instructor.
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