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Carl Erskine Humanitarian Award

Seniors’ kind act spurs the creation of Erskine Award

  • 1 min to read

Elwood’s Courtney Todd, left, Shenandoah’s Erikka Hill, center, and Elwood’s Claudia Leavell pose at a girls basketball game between Elwood and Wabash. Todd and Leavell started a fundraiser at the game for Hill’s family after their house burned.

Not all superstars are created on the field of play.

Claudia Leavell and Courtney Todd left an indelible mark on Elwood athletics as best friends and fierce competitors. But they’ll be best remembered for their selfless act in November.

After Shenandoah three-sport star Erikka Hill and her family lost their house in a fire, Todd and Leavell called Panthers girls basketball coach Craig Brunnemer with an idea. They wanted to pass a bucket during that weekend’s game to raise relief funds and invite Hill as a special guest.

The 2019 shot put champion accepted and was accompanied by Raiders teammate Kathryn Perry. What followed was one of the best stories of a chaotic school year.

The buckets passed around the Elwood gym that night were overflowing, and the spotlight Leavell and Todd shined on the situation quickly grew. Schools from around the area began hosting fundraisers of their own, and thousands of dollars were raised for the Hill family.

That spark of generosity also inspired a new honor for this year’s THB Sports Awards – the Carl Erskine Humanitarian Award. With a video introduction from Hill, who said the pair “changed my life,” Todd and Leavell were named the inaugural winners Tuesday.

The award is named for the former Anderson High School and Dodgers star whose community support has extended long after his athletic career.

Leavell and Todd have set a very high standard for future winners.

THB sports editor George Bremer has covered the Indianapolis Colts since 2010. He occasionally sports a beard that can rival Andrew Luck's, but he lacks arm strength and durability.

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