To the editor:

The rivalry of small town high school sports is fun and fantastic. Take high school boys and girls basketball, you have the clear distinction of the friendly rivalry atmosphere with both schools proudly wearing their school colors and shouting cheers to root their team on as the contest heats up. However, on Friday, January 27, it was much different with the Defiance vs. Ottawa-Glandorf high school boys’ basketball game. From the moment that you walked in OG’s gym, the atmosphere was one of unity in one cause. Starting with the coaches and players from both schools wearing HOOPS 4 LUKE t-shirts. Cheerleaders and fans from both communities were wearing HOOPS 4 LUKE shirts, and others wore their TEAM LUKE t-shirts as well.

Yes, the rivalry of the game in this packed gymnasium took place with both teams working hard to bring home a victory, but the mood of the entire night was the theme of the HOOPS 4 LUKE project. In this fundraising effort, both the Defiance and Ottawa-Glandorf communities came together to support the family of a little 3 year old boy named Luke who is fighting leukemia.

The effort consisted of selling HOOPS 4 LUKE t-shirts, 50-50 raffle, bracelet and seat cushion sales and donations. Defiance gladly got on board with this effort and greatly supported it. They bought t-shirts, conducted and donated proceeds from a 50-50 raffle held at the Defiance vs. Ottawa-Glandorf girls’ basketball game the night before, and others from Defiance donated money as well.

Luke is the son of Cory and Heather Haselman. Cory and Heather are both OG graduates and Cory was a member of the 2002 regional finalist team that was knocked out of the tournament by LeBron James and Akron St. Vincent-St Mary’s. It is amazing that 15 years later, the community is once again rooting for a former OG basketball player, his family, and especially his son, Luke.

The Defiance connection is twofold. In Cory’s younger years, he’d encountered Kirk Lehman, the current DHS boys’ basketball coach, through summer basketball camps. Kirk and Cory respected and liked each other from the start. Additionally, Cory works at the Defiance Regional Hospital and Heather had also worked there up until Luke’s illness. So many Defiance residents have come to know them.

The night was simply amazing for Luke’s family and we can tell you it is a very humbling experience to see so many people united in this effort. If such a heartfelt effort ever happens in large cities, we don’t see how it is the same as it is here in small communities. We are very fortunate to live in such a caring and generous community. I’m sure that the close family upbringing explains the need for people to want to give back to others and to count their own blessing.

Special thanks from Luke’s family to Tyson McLaughlin, OG boys’ basketball coach & athletic director, who organized this whole project. Thanks to Kirk Lehman and the Defiance High School and community as well as Ottawa-Glandorf High school and community. Thanks to the numerous unnamed people who donated supplies and gave their time for this project. Most of all, thanks for your prayers. Thanks seems so little to say, but know that we pray for your families that God keeps you safe and healthy as well. THANKS EVERYONE!

The Family of Luke Haselman