Laila Rivers should’ve started her freshman year at Whitmer this fall.
The 14-year-old should’ve taken classes in a different building than she did last year, and her after-school routine should’ve included volleyball practices. After a leukemia diagnosis derailed her plans this summer, she’s sidelined from the courts at least until next year. Even though a lumbar puncture examination in July revealed she’s in remission, she’ll continue exhausting treatments that will keep her from Whitmer for an extended period of time.
But on Sept. 13, Laila will get to stand beside her teammates again. During Whitmer’s home match against Fremont Ross, Laila will be on the court, symbolically inserted into the lineup before swapping out with her best friend before any points are scored. The team will additionally sell t-shirts, embroidered with a volleyball printed on the front and “Laila the Champ,” her unofficial rallying slogan, on the back. There will also be tickets available to the family’s spaghetti dinner event set for Oct. 6.
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