High school softball: Olympus player battles brain cancer with the support of the softball community
“We wanted to support her and to be as meaningful as we can in her life,” Bennett said. “That’s our goal.”
Bendt said she was a player at UNLV when the team adopted another child with cancer through the nonprofit Friends of Jaclyn, which pairs collegiate and high school teams up with gravely ill children.
That experience was profound, Bendt said.
“I hadn’t been around someone who was that sick before,” Bendt said. “It really kind of made you focus on what was important. You realize there are more important things. She was fighting for her life, whereas we’re just fighting to win games. It was a great experience, and you realize what’s more important and that you should cherish the moments you have, be grateful for what you have.”
Reagan said she was stunned that the SLCC team full of players she barely knew wanted to embrace her in the way she did. In fact, accepting help has been a difficult aspect of her journey.
“I’m learning to just accept help and be grateful,” she said.
One thing that makes it difficult is that she just wants to be a normal teen worrying about normal teen issues like dating and driving.
“The biggest thing right now is the psychological,” said her dad. “She’s had a couple of breakdowns not wanting to die.” But before she could travel too far down that road, the Bruins softball team embraced her.
“I was totally shocked,” said James Everett. “It’s been wonderful for her. She hasn’t stopped smiling since they told her.”
Reagan said her high school teammates also surprised her by announcing that their annual pink game, which raises money for the Huntsman Cancer Institute, would instead be a purple game, raising money for her family and their medical expenses. The game is scheduled for April 25 against Bountiful and both teams will auction specially-made jerseys and are raising money through other efforts.
“Reagan is a big part of our team,” said senior Marissa Johnson. “We just wanted to support her. She deserves everything she can get. She doesn’t even like to talk about it a lot because she doesn’t like it when people pity her for it. She’s still really positive and she never uses it for an excuse.”
In fact, unlike a lot of teens, Everett couldn’t wait to return to school full time, which took a few months.
“I was ready,” she said. “Mostly excited for softball of course, but I was ready to get back in the groove of being a normal sophomore.”
She said she just tries to enjoy each moment, especially those that come on a softball diamond.
“I’m so happy I get to spend my time with the coaches and my teammates — even if we have to run.”
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