Two Central Illinois high schools were helping turn one family's tragedy into a good cause at Monday night's the St. Teresa Lady Bulldogs against the Central A & M Lady Raiders girl's basketball game. At the game, one family was hoping to make a difference long after the last whistle. Off the court the competitors joined teams to help organize an organ and tissue donor drive to help spread the word about a hometown cause.
On the sidelines Brianna Morrow, head coach of the St. Teresa girls basketball team, was taking on Central A & M. As former head coach of the Lady Raiders, some would think this matchup was all about the rivalry, but in fact, this game was all about bringing together two teams for one cause.
"It just made it fitting that tonight we have this game between two schools to honor her and also sign up people for organ and tissue donation and bring that to the forefront," Morrow said.
Just over four years ago Casey Williams died in a car accident. She was an organ donor.
"She was 23 when she passed away and we still meet people today whose lives she's impacted," said her sister Chelbi Williams. "She has best friends all over the world. She lived life to the fullest, that was Casey."
But in Central Illinois, her cousin and two sisters, all graduates of Central A & M, were putting the rivalry aside, and educating the youth about organ donation.
"Sometimes young people don't think about tissue donation," said Liz Hager Regional Coordinator with Life Goes On. "They think they're going to live forever. And the people that sign up in the registry they are the most important people. They are the heroes of organ and tissue donors, the actual donors."
They want to show others how even when a life is lost, other lives can be saved.
"I think it's important to show kids so much more to life than just basketball," Coach Morrow said.
Because even for a head coach, sometimes the game isn't always about winning.
At the very least, the family and Life Goes On wanted people to consider signing up to be a donor. In Illinois, there are more than 5,000 people waiting for organs. One third of those people will die before an organ becomes available.
Events for the Casey Williams Foundation are hosted year round to raise money and awareness for organ donation. A volleyball tournament is scheduled for May. Registration starts in April. And a $5,000 scholarship in Casey's name is also in place for high school students.
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