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Muskego scores for Mukwonago girl stricken with leukemia

Team presents check as part of Make-A-Wish Foundation effort

Feb. 25, 2014

Muskego — It was an act of kindness so perfect, like a difficult shot that finds nothing but net.

At a recent local game between the Muskego and Mukwonago girls' basketball squads, the home team presented a $4,300 check to help a 15-year-old girl who is suffering from leukemia live out her dream of going to Hawaii.

The players presented the giant check on Feb. 14 — Valentine's Day — to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help Abby Olsen of Mukwonago on her way to sunshine.

Members of the Muskego team raised $3,500, adding to the $800 raised in a shorter period of time by the Mukwonago team, which was on hand for the presentation thanks to the well-timed effort.

In her honor, both teams wore bright yellow T-shirts at warmups with the hopeful legend "Aloha Abby" printed on them.

Fruitful free throws

Although they had never met Abby, Muskego girls players from fourth grade through varsity took their shooting skills to a free-throw fundraiser last June, knowing that some child or teenager battling some deadly illness would get their fondest wish.

Some kids got pledges for every free throw they made out of 100. Others got a set amount from donors.

Young Dani Abella, a senior and a point guard who has played varsity for two years, was one of those at the free-throw line last June. She made 80 out of 100 free throws, a personal best for her, she said. Despite her relatively fine aim, Dani said she isn't even the best free-thrower on the team.

Her heart went out to Abby ever since she heard the 15-year-old would get the team's support.

"She's our age and she's been through way more than any of us have," Dani said. "It makes you more grateful for the things you have in your life."

Life lesson

Dani thought the check presentation ceremony itself was "awesome," but, more than that, the effort gave her a social experience beyond school and sports, she said.

"It's nice to be able to do something bigger than basketball," she said, noting that the experience helped her understand some of the challenges others have in their lives.

Brian Hirtz, Muskego's head girls basketball coach, said that's part of what the Muskego basketball program is all about.

"It's about being good people," Hirtz said.

The basketball players have raised money every year for Make-A-Wish. Children and teens are chosen to receive help from the fundraiser mainly on the basis of geography, he said. Last year's proceeds helped a 12-year-old Big Bend boy realize his dream of going to Japan.

Every year, the school asks who in the area needs support.

"It's something we talk to them about, being something bigger than yourself and giving back to the community," Hirtz said. "It's letting them know they can make a positive difference."

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