When Lindsey Nicholson first read about Meadowdale senior Ashley Aven’s life-threatening battle with acute myeloid leukemia, the Skyline junior knew she personally wanted to do something.
A short time later, Spartan softball coach Alison Mitchell approached her players at team dinner, posing the question “What are we going to do?”
Nicholson had no hesitation.
“When I heard our team was going to do something about it, I just got even more excited about it,” she said.
Ideas were thrown out, and after deliberation, the team opted to host a home run derby on May 6 in support of Aven and her family.
“They realize that (fastpitch softball’s) a very small community,” Mitchell said. “When they read that they were just of the mindset of that’s something no kid should ever have to go through. You shouldn’t be worrying about things like that.”
Nicholson and seniors Margot Erwin and Lauren Wolfe designed flyers to pass out at school, and throughout Sammamish.
Working within a timeframe of about a week, the players drew in pledges from far and wide — some flat donations, while others donated money for every home run hit.
At last count, the players had raised approximately $6,000 for the Aven family, with some late donations still coming in.
While assisting a fellow softball player weighed heavy on their minds, there was no hiding another obvious aspect of last Thursday’s event.
“It’s a competition between all of us, we get excited about that,” Nicholson said, smiling.
Each varsity and junior varsity player received 25 at bats. Nicholson won the contest, hitting 13 home runs, earning $621 for her efforts. Anya Kamber and Mickey Dunn-Blad hit seven apiece, Erwin had six and Amy Ziegler had five. Erwin earned the most in the fundraiser, hauling in $1,200. In all, the Spartan players hit 58 home runs.
The Skyline players are still raising money for the Aven family by selling paper softballs at all their remaining games. People sign the softballs, which will be linked together. Parent organizer Shawna Dunn said she hopes when the team presents the monies to the Aven family at a whiffle ball tournament May 23, there are enough softballs to stretch from home plate, around the bases, back to home plate.
“Anybody can help,” Nicholson said. “It doesn’t matter who you are where you’re from. If you hear a story like this you can make a difference.”
Wolfe agreed, noting it just takes a little initiative.
“I just say don’t be afraid to step up and help out if you hear that someone needs it,” she said. “That family can really use some help, and I know lots of people would look at that article and say ‘Hey, I’d really like to help out, but I don’t know how.’ It’s really not that hard. Just print out a flyer, print out a sheet and get going.”