As a freshman, Emily Gomez had to battle to make the North Kitsap volleyball team.
But that was nothing compared to what she’s faced off the court as her mom battled breast cancer and her grandmother died from the dreaded disease.
During North Kitsap’s “Dig Blue” fundraiser to spread awareness about cancer Oct. 11, Gomez took the chance to shine a light on the past.
“I’m playing for my mom because it was a real struggle for our family,” Gomez said.
Gomez decided to represent her mother in the Dig Blue game because she deserves the honor of overcoming breast cancer.
“My mom (Juanita) feels honored to be able to share her experience and honor her mother, (too),” Gomez said. “Now that I know my mom is OK, I feel grateful for her.”
As for her grandmother, Gomez said, “It was emotional going through it because knowing they are in pain and can’t help is really hard.”
The freshman outside hitter said that she liked that all the players at the event supported someone with cancer by wearing a ribbon in their hair. Their names also were shared on a large TV screen at the volleyball game.
“I feel honored because there are some people that go through it all and stay quiet,” Gomez said. “We are showing people it’s a big thing in this world and happens to most of us. We are here to show support for anyone.”
Meanwhile, sophomore teammate Addy La Tour decided to show support for her great-grandmother, Sally, who lost her battle with cancer a few years ago.
“I’m really happy to be able to support her,” La Tour said. “She was really strong in her battle with cancer and her daughter, my grandma, and grandpa also had it. I’m happy to be supporting them all.”
Although La Tour was young, she was able to build a connection with her grandparents and great-grandmother. So, the loss of her family members was difficult.
“It was really difficult because she lived a great life and was a fantastic person,” La Tour said. “I really appreciated her and she fought really hard and had supporters all the way through it.”
La Tour used the Dig Blue game as a chance to share the stories of her family and inspire other cancer patients to continue to fight their battles.
“I’m grateful to be able to support people battling cancer, and I love that they know that people care about them and want to help them through their journey,” La Tour said. “It’s inspiring to do something like this and support my family and friends.”
Another freshman, Jazmyn Sammons, played for coach Kaelea Makaiwi’s father, Douglas Makaiwi.
Makaiwi’s daughter and assistant coach Amalia Bareeith said: “He is up there watching over us and cheering for us. Jazmyn is sponsoring him because he was a coach for many sports. To see it put into the next generation is important.”
Sammons gave a bouquet of flowers to coach Makaiwi before the varsity matchup, and they hung out beside each other until the game began.
“I want to show that everyone has a support system because some people stay quiet about it and don’t show emotion through it,” Sammons said.
The fundraiser raised over $1,000. All proceeds will go to Kitsap Cancer Services. The Dig Blue game showed each player to be grateful for having healthy and strong family and friends.