MONMOUTH, Ore. -- At the heart of the Western Oregon baseball team’s second straight GNAC Tournament Championship is 3-year-old Lucy Walker, who is inspiring the Wolves to be #LucyStrong.
In November, Wolves head coach Kellen Walker told the team he was stepping down for the season to be with his daughter Lucy, who was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia).
“Cancer sucks, it was tough,” said Walker.
“My heart dropped. I was like, 'Oh no,'” said WOU third baseman Nyles Nygaard.
Walker says Lucy is in good spirits as she begins her fifth phase of treatment. While Lucy continues her battle with cancer, friends and family have stepped up. More than $29,000 in donations were made to Team Lucy’s You Caring page.
“It takes a village to get through something like this for sure,” said Walker. “It’s been really encouraging for my wife, my family and I. Without all those people, there’s no way we would have been able to keep moving forward.
The hashtag #LucyStrong can be spotted on social media, players wore ‘Lucy Strong’ wrist bands along with patches on their jerseys throughout the season.
“I think a lot of us rallied around the Walker Family, Lucy and what she has to go through” said catcher Justin Wakem.
“Lucy and Grace (Lucy’s sister) are our biggest fans when they are able to come and we know that,” said pitcher Jake Simmons. “They love us and we love them. It’s really a family here.”
After the team secured its second straight GNAC Tournament title, the Wolves sent a video to Lucy dedicating the victory to her.
One player shouted, “We love you Lucy, this is for you!” That was followed by the team cheering “Lucy Strong!”
Coach Walker says, “she still has a ways to go, but she’s making progress. Her health is good right now.”
If that continues, Walker says he plans to coach Western Oregon next season.