Loudoun Fourth-Grader Supports StillBrave with Volleyball Tourney

Ten-year-old Audrey Hendrickson is crazy about volleyball. She’s also committed to helping kids with cancer, inspired in part by her beloved bus driver’s son and his battle with leukemia.

Working with her teacher, Darci Rampino, and mom Christy Hendrickson, Audrey, a fourth-grader at Hillsboro Charter Academy, is organizing the inaugural Dig For Gold volleyball fundraiser to benefit the StillBrave Childhood Cancer Foundation, which provides non-medical support to childhood cancer patients and their families.

The friendly match pits fourth and fifth graders at HCA against the school’s faculty and staff. The match takes place Thursday, March 15 at Harmony Middle School.

Rampino assigned her students to come up with a “passion project” encouraging them to find a way to combine something that they love with a way to help the community. Many students opted to keep their projects theoretical. But Audrey was inspired by her bus driver Stacey Holtz-Schmidt and her son Emmet Schmidt of Harpers Ferry, WV to make her project a reality.  Emmet, now 13, battled leukemia as a younger child, and the family was devastated when he relapsed at the end of 2016. Members of the school community came together to support the family, and Emmet got visits from StillBrave’s founder Tattoo Tom Mitchell while he was in the hospital in November and December of that year. Emmet, who got a bone marrow transplant last March thanks to a marrow donation from his older sister Olivia, is doing well a year later, Holtz-Schmidt said.

Audrey Hendrickson

Audrey, who played in the Loudoun Youth Volleyball league last fall, also got help from volunteer coaches from that league. Audrey’s classmate Malcolm Fuller, who starred in this winter’s production of “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theater and has performed at a Washington Nationals game, is slated to sing the national anthem to kick off the event.

“I care about others and not just about me” Audrey said. “I chose a volleyball game because I love volleyball. I wanted to raise money for StlllBrave Childhood Cancer Foundation because they helped my bus driver’s family when her son was sick and they help many other families dealing with childhood cancer. Tattoo Tom is awesome and  passionate I want to help him. I like how the whole community is working together to help me with this volleyball game.

The inaugural Dig For Gold charity volleyball match takes place Thursday, March 15 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Harmony Middle School, 38174 W. Colonial Highway, Hamilton. The event is open to the public and admission is by donation with all proceeds going to StillBrave. For more information, go to facebook.com/hillsborocharter.

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