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Wind River girls have had great season on and off court

Feb 26, 2013 By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

What do you get when you mix committed senior leadership on a small-school girls basketball team, a coach and activities director who is willing to guide, and a supportive group of students, school staff, parents and community?

The answer?

An impressive $30,000 raised over the last three years for local people in need.

That's what the Wind River Lady Cougars basketball team has accomplished.

It all started when Wind River activities director and girls basketball coach Justin Walker asked his team to do a service project.

The stipulations were simple. Walker's rules required that money raised would go directly to members of their own community and not to a national organization. Rule two was that if his team was going to do it, they were going to do it in a big way.

"We were not going to just play a basketball game and raise $250 to $500, but we were really going to impact some people's lives," Walker said.

Then Walker stepped out of the way.

The Lady Cougars' first-year goal was to raise $4,000. Instead, they raised $11,000 for two different local families that were being affected by cancer at the time.

Keep in mind that the current enrollment at Wind River High School is about 130 students.

The girls came up with the fundraising ideas and, because of their leadership, got the rest of the school involved in a fun week of activities that included class competitions, lots of "annoying music playing," and opportunities for kids to dress up, according to Walker.

The recreation board kicked in with pink T-shirts that said, "Cougars fighting cancer" for all Wind River kids grades six through 12.

In year two, the girls basketball team seniors set out to raise money and support our military and over $10,000 was raised that was split for scholarships for two local military families. Two more families were sponsored so they could participate in activities sponsored by the Chance Phelps Foundation in Dubois last summer.

The rec board kicked in again with camo T-shirts for students and the "military came out and did some different trainings and provided information to the student body," Walker said.

This year, the senior Lady Cougars decided to raise funds to support our county's Help For Health program but did it all without going to businesses that have so graciously supported their efforts in the past. A dollar here, five more there, and a few quarters tossed in added up to over $8,000 raised for Help For Health. The Lady Cougars presented the check during halftime of the final home game of the season.

The Wind River Lady Cougars basketball team, and their entire school, really, has had another great season.

Oh, and they won their conference and are headed to state this week, too.

Good luck, ladies. You've set a wonderful example for us all.

Have a great sports week. Go Big Purple, and Go Big Red!

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