Center Grove Junior Olivia Wright organizes Shootout Cancer basketball fundraiser to benefit Lenglade family.
It didn’t take Center Grove High School Junior Olivia Wright long to think of a topic when she was assigned to create a research project and do something with that research for her dual-credit English Composition class.
Her brother’s friend, sixth grader Jasper Lenglade, had been diagnosed with leukemia a year ago and is currently undergoing treatment. Upon receiving permission from the Lenglade family, Olivia began to organize the Jasperstrong Shootout Cancer 3V3 event that will take place April 14, 5 to 9 p.m. and April 15, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Center Grove Middle School North gymnasium.
“Ever since I learned what happened, I always wanted to do something,” Olivia said. “This is what I decided to do to finally get to help Jasper.”
The Lenglade family came to the Center Grove area, from Indianapolis, when Jasper was just a year and a half old. His mom, Jennifer, said the family is very close-knit and enjoys spending time together, especially riding roller coasters at Cedar Point or sharing their love for hard rock music. At 11 years old, Jasper enjoys playing acoustic and electric guitar, building with Legos and anything to do with food.
Jasper is a member of the basketball and football teams, and though he still attends practices and games, he hasn’t been able to play in the past year.
“On March 1, (2016) he got up and was about incoherent,” Jennifer said. “He couldn’t put a sentence together, couldn’t talk. He had been complaining of headaches beforehand. He was clammy. We thought it was a diabetic episode so we decided to take him to Riley.”
Upon checking his blood work, the family was told that Jasper has leukemia. He was officially diagnosed March 3 and received his first chemo treatment March 4.
Jasper is now in the maintenance stage of his treatment, which will last two and a half years. He is back to school, attending half days when his health allows. He’s building up to going full days, and although he misses getting to do some things, “there’s no point moaning and complaining because it’s not going to get anywhere,” he said.
Ever since his diagnosis, Jennifer said the community hasn’t hesitated to show their support. The Wright family would bring them dinners for the first few weeks when they returned home. CGMSN held a bracelet fundraiser. The football league did a cancer awareness day.
“You can see how much people want to help,” Jennifer said. “It really is a tight-knit community. He appreciates everything, certainly, and we’re grateful for everything. At the same time, you wish the reason he’s getting all of the attention wasn’t there.”
Jasper concurred, saying, “I’d rather have landed on the moon or something… or broken the world cheeseburger-eating record.”
As Olivia organizes the Jasperstrong Shootout, she said she has seen first-hand that support for Jasper. She has far exceeded her initial goal of raising $2,500 through the event after receiving a $2,500 match from The Garrett Companies. The new goal is $10,000.
Local businesses from all around the community have chosen to sponsor, or even approached Olivia about sponsoring the event. The primary sponsor is Chick-fil-A of Greenwood on State Road 135, while many other local business have also contributed.
“She took on a big project,” said Olivia’s mom, Amy Ford. “I’m really proud of her. Both of my kids were so sad when they found out Jasper had leukemia. (This event) has been a good way to redirect some of that energy and put it to good use for the community… Already, a lot of community members have come to us and said this is really amazing. A lot of people who wanted to be involved and couldn’t, this opened the door for them.”
Registration is currently open for the tournament and will run through the first week of April or until they sell out. The tournament is open to all ages, from first grade to adults. Olivia is looking for at least 50 teams of three to participate. Many items have been donated for a raffle, and food, refreshments, T-shirts and bracelets will be available for purchase. Be the Match, national bone marrow registry, will have a donor drive, while The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society will have a booth there for awareness. The event details have been posted to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and are regularly updated as Olivia gets more sponsors.
Olivia said she’s looking forward the day of, watching the sixth graders play, while Jasper said he’s anticipating watching his dad play.
“I’m really excited,” Olivia said. “I’m looking forward to seeing everybody there and helping to support them. I’m looking forward to what the T-shirts are going to look like. I’d love if we could do this annually.”