BY KATHERINE MURRAY WEEKLY REPORTER
It was a statistic Brynn Laverdure couldn’t let go of when she first heard it as a junior at O’Fallon Township High School back in 2011. That year, thirty-six children in the United States were diagnosed with cancer every day. Unfortunately, that statistic has only grown from there. The number is as staggering as it is disheartening. So Laverdure decided to do something about it.
“I thought, ‘What is better than a group of kids fighting for kids?’” Laverdure said. “I wanted to combine my love for the sport of lacrosse with my desire to fight back against cancer.”
Laverdure took it upon herself to organize “Minus 36,” a boys versus girls lacrosse match to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Working with the coaches, the OTHS athletic director and parents, Laverdure and her teammates created an event to be proud of. The first year they played in honor of a teammate’s cousin. “Brody Strong” appeared on all their forearms.
Six years later, the event is still running strong, and gaining steam as well as popularity. The event has raised over $10,000 for St. Jude’s since it began.
“St. Jude’s is a fantastic organization to donate to because no child is turned a way for lack of means to pay,” Laverdure added.
Each year, the boys lacrosse team faces off against the girls’ team. But there’s a twist: they switch sticks and play by the girls’ rules. And what’s more, the teams come dressed to impress. Each team tries to outdo their opponents in outrageous costumes. Last year, the girls wore funky shorts and blue shirts, while the boys sported hot pink, skirts and wigs. Each player also create their own funny nickname, announced at the beginning of the game.
Though Laverdure left the state for college, she continued her involvement in the event by designing the shirts every year. After graduating from St. Leo University in Tampa, Florida with a bachelors in Criminal Justice, Laverdure is back in O’Fallon and ready to get hands on again. “I am excited to be home for the event for the first time in a few years!”
The event is a true team effort, parent Jen Gaab said. “The parents and coaches organize the event, but the kids take over publicizing at school and on social media.” Gaab has a son on the junior varsity team, and a daughter on varsity.
Boys Vs. Girls Minus 36 event is on April 22, 2017. Junior varsity play at 1pm, with varsity to immediately follow at the OTHS turf. Admission to the event is five dollars, though if you purchase a “fan” shirt, your admission is waived. Additional donations are also gratefully accepted.
But the feeling of knowing you are aiding the research that will end childhood cancer is priceless.