Toledo defensive end Ben Pike might have stepped away from football, but his teammates and coaches haven’t forgotten him.
Pike, a senior with a year of eligibility remaining, left the team to take care of his fiancée, Ashlee Barrett, whose leukemia had come back after a yearlong battle to beat it.
Last Friday, the Rockets hosted an open practice in Mentor, Ohio. Pike's hometown, and asked for donations to help with Barrett’s treatment. The team raised $7,215.12. Another $7,000 was donated to a fund at Fifth Third Bank in Mentor, Ohio.
The theme for the event was “Faith, Not Fear,” which has been Barrett’s motto during her struggle. Barrett is a former women’s basketball player with the Rockets.
"I was blown away by the turnout tonight," Pike said after the event. "I didn't know what to expect. I was just happy the team was coming here. I'm very humbled by it."
Pike is on pace to graduate this semester and he and Barrett plan to marry on June 15.
According to a story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Barrett was diagnosed with a blood infection in April 2012 and nearly died. She was then diagnosed with leukemia. At this point, Barrett had already graduated and was teaching in St. Louis. Pike was making regular trips to see Barrett even during the football season.
Barrett finished chemotherapy and returned to teaching, but the cancer came back on Jan. 25. Barrett is going through another round of chemotherapy while Pike student teaches at a middle school in Toledo. His plan is to move to St. Louis in May.
Donations can still be made to Ashlee Barrett through Fifth Third Bank:
Fifth Third Bank
Ashlee Barrett Fund/Northeast Ohio
9875 Johnnycake Ridge Rd
Mentor, OH 44060
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