By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin
DALEVILLE, Ind. —
When three seniors in the Daleville National Honor Society learned that a second-grader in the elementary school was struggling with cancer, they decided they needed to ease her pain. They had no idea they could inspire an entire gym full of basketball fans to become a sea of yellow T-shirts in honor of Katie Kline.
“It started out that we were just going to make Christmas baskets for Katie and her brother,” said Tyler Reels, 18. “One of the teachers told us they were trying an experimental treatment and having trouble paying for it. We felt like we had to do more.”
Diagnosed at age 3, Katie has fought cancer five times in her short life.
“I have had experience losing people to cancer,” said Reels. “Hearing that a little, innocent, second-grader had it broke my heart.”
Along with her friends, Betsy Weston and Jensen Hochstetler, Reels designed yellow T-shirts that said “Fight, Win and Believe” for workers at the basketball game on Dec. 7. Hearing about the preparation, teachers and students asked for their own shirts. Over 600 were sold.
On game night, the basketball team and coaches shaved their heads and even the coaches of the opposing team, Burris, were wearing T-shirts for Katie. At halftime the seniors presented Katie and her brother, Aiden, with gifts while another student read a poem written for the little girl.
“As soon as I stepped up to the middle of the floor and saw how many people in the stands were wearing them, I lost it,” she said. “The stands were all yellow. I hadn’t processed how many shirts I had sold until that moment.”
Between the shirts and other items for sale that night, over $4,000 was raised for Katie’s family. But more than that, the family felt the love of the community.
“She was so excited that she got to be a princess for the day,” said Terry Storer, Katie’s mother. “She hasn’t gotten to do so many things — dance, Girl Scouts, play dates, normal kid stuff. This really made up for a lot. Everyone in that gym would say that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You could feel the love in that place. It was amazing.”
“I was amazed at the sea of yellow,” said Weston, 18. “Even parents on the other team were wearing the yellow shirts.”
“It was cool to see the whole community come together,” said Hochstetler, 18.
“I can’t tell those girls how much this has meant to us or how much this has meant to the community,” Storer said.