In a touching tribute, an entire New Jersey high school community has come together to rally around a girls' lacrosse player who was diagnosed with brain cancer in September, raising nearly $2,500 before Marlton (N.J.) Cherokee High has even played its first game in Katie Bednarek's honor.
Six months before her senior lacrosse season, Bednarek received the diagnosis that would prevent her from taking the field for Cherokee this spring, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Also an honor roll student and member of the National Honor Society, Bednarek had played for the Chiefs each of the previous three seasons. As a result, her teammates have dedicated the entire season to their friend.
"Being a part of a team is equivalent to having a second family," Cherokee senior Morgan Everett told the Inquirer. "As a family, we have to stick together and help each other out when times get tough. Since Katie is a senior, we want to make her senior year as memorable as possible and also keep a positive attitude for her. This season, we play every game for Katie and support her through this difficult time."
According to the feature, Bednarek's teammates began selling purple t-shirts around school that read: "We believe in hope. We believe in a cure. We believe in the fight. We believe in Kate." Pretty soon, hundreds of students, faculty and supporters had joined the cause.
The Chiefs will reportedly take the field Friday for their home opener against Haddonfield (N.J.) High donning ribbons inscribed with Bednarek's initials on their uniforms. Obviously, a sea of purple will fill the stadium, and you can probably expect a few more additions to #chiefsplayforkate on social media.
"We aim to play every game to make her proud," Cherokee junior Karlee Slavin told the Inquirer. Every senior wants their last year to be the best, so despite the challenges that Katie's faced, we hope as a team we can unite to make this the best year of her life."
Here's hoping a successful Cherokee girls' lacrosse season aids in Bednarek's recovery. And vice versa.