Men's Basketball Team Helps All-Star Opponent
In a Men's Basketball game against North Summit, Waterford Head Coach Ryan Judd noticed their star player, Hayden Blonquist, was not on the court. While many coaches may have rejoiced to see a formidable opponent missing from a critical game, Ryan was concerned by his absence. After making a few calls to fellow coaches, Ryan learned that Hayden was recently diagnosed with Leukemia.
Upon hearing the news, Ryan immediately emailed the Waterford community: "Our team would like to help one of our friends, and his family. Hayden Blonquist, the star player for North Summit, who might of been the 2A MVP this season, was diagnosed with Leukemia last week. He will not be playing in our playoff game this Saturday, or the rest of the season, but we would like to try and help to do all that we can to get him back onto the court!"
Instead of preparing for their upcoming playoff game, the Men's Basketball team set aside time during practice for each player to shoot 100 free throws in support of Hayden. The team invited community members to sponsor a basketball player, and commit to donate a certain amount of money for each free throw made. Waterford faculty, staff, students, and friends pledged pennies to dollars for free throws.
Following the free throw fundraiser, the amount donated to Hayden's GoFundMe page went from about $2,900 to over $10,000. The donor list is full of the names of Waterford families, faculty members, and “Friends of Ravens Basketball,” who made donations both big and small. Ryan guessed that the Waterford community has donated roughly $6,000 to date.
In an email thanking donors, Ryan wrote, "Not only have you blessed the life of Hayden and his family, both financially and emotionally, but you have provided my basketball players with an opportunity to develop kindness and compassion, and encouraged them to not be afraid to act."
The thing I was most proud of from my team, and what I hope they take from this is experience, was simply their willingness to act. Instead of just sympathetically saying, “Aw man, that sucks!”, and moving on. They changed their daily routine, went outside of their comfort zone and did their best to help, even though it was someone who they were supposed to see as “an opponent”. -Coach Ryan Judd
Several of the senior basketball players went with Ryan to visit Hayden at Primary Children’s Hospital. Despite receiving his first Chemotherapy treatment only days before their visit, the team found Hayden in good spirits. Hayden optimistically walked Ryan and the players through his 24-month treatment plan, talked about 2A basketball, and dished out some playful trash about dunking on Waterford the last time he played.
Hayden's battle against Leukemia is far from over. According to his GoFundMe page, "Hayden will be staying at Primary Children's Hospital to receive chemo treatments for one month. After his month long stay he will have to return weekly for additional treatments for several months and ongoing treatments for 2-3 years. There will be major expenses incurred from the medical treatments and hospital stays. There will also be a lot of travel expenses and regular bills that his family will need to pay, while having a loss of regular wages by not being able to maintain regular work while taking care of Hayden and his 8- and 5-year-old brothers."
If you would like to support Hayden, please visit his GoFundMe page below.