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Written By Ink Free News / Sports on Sunday, December 22, 2019

Wawasee and Warsaw collected over $1,500 Saturday in a combined effort to help two of its own fighting their battles with cancer. (Photos by Mike Deak)

SYRACUSE – Saturday night saw a pair of rival basketball programs square off on the court with the premise of winning over your opponent at all costs. The game itself was handily won by Warsaw, but both teams came out of the Teepee winners in raising money for a pair of locals fighting cancer.

Warsaw and Wawasee created the Losing Is Not An Option T-shirts and worked some fundraising initiatives around Saturday night’s girls basketball game to help alleviate costs for Wawasee teacher Tracy Walesa and Warsaw student Reagan Dice. Walesa, who coached with both Warsaw head coach Lenny Krebs and Wawasee head coach Matt Carpenter at Goshen High School, now teaches at Wawasee and is the PA announcer for the Wawasee girls basketball home games. She was on hand at the scorer’s table Saturday night. Dice was in Cincinnati at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital but sent a note that was read during a break in the varsity game.

Wawasee teacher Tracy Walesa, center, is fighting cancer and the Wawasee basketball program chose to raise funds to help her battle.

Both teams wore the T-shirts in pregame as did both coaching staffs and a host of fans. Proceeds from the shirt sales, as well as a bake sale and freewill donations were collected. Wawasee principal Geoff Walmer, who was an assistant principal at Warsaw as well as WCHS graduate, announced following the game the early totals from the game eclipsed $1,500 with more likely to add to the total before the weekend was over.

“The relationships that Wawasee and Warsaw have, not just the specific schools and communities, but the crossover with so many people involved in both, this just makes sense,” said Walmer. “I love both communities. I’d like to think the connection between the two communities will remain strong. We always will have a rivalry, we’ll always want to beat each other in whatever it is, but at the end of the night, something like this shows we can give each other a hug and let each other know we’re there for you.”

Added Carpenter, “Both communities are close. Family and friends in both communities. Obviously Lenny and I are close, coaching together for over 10 years in Goshen, and with Tracy as well. The reason we did this is because we care for each other’s communities and we want to end this terrible disease. For us to work together and bring our programs together to combine against something outside of basketball, that’s what it’s all about. We know we’re not raising $25,000 and covering all the medical bills, but it shows our concern and trying to help out however we can.”

“You look at some of the battles people are fighting, and we’re just playing a game,” stated Krebs. “We are not fighting a battle. People are actually fighting serious battles in life. We are blessed, and we want our girls to know just how blessed we really are. My heart goes out to Tracy and to Reagan, no one should have to go through this. If anyone is going to battle, it’s Tracy. She is a warrior in every sense of the word. We want to make this an opportunity to help others in any way we can.”

Anyone interested in donating to the efforts can contact either coach Krebs or Carpenter, or either school’s athletic departments.

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