When Turlock Christian High School junior and volleyball player McCalister Russell found out that she had been diagnosed with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, her doctor told her that she might never be able to play the sport again.
Although Russell was disheartened that she could no longer play the sport she loved and reportedly felt disconnected from her friends, her father quickly found a way to make her feel better while helping out the greater community: by creating a Fantasy Football League.
“I wanted to be able to hang out with my friends and raise money for a good cause,” said Russell.
The Turlock Christian Dads and Daughters league consisted of McCalister, Matyson Hooker, Sadie Roos, Kaylene Baskin, Alexis Smith, Meghan Mark, Mikayla Yagi, Madison Yagi, Cassie Balswick, Abbie Morelli, Nicole Sanders, Hannah Sawyer, Hannah Bergman, Tori Vieira, and 12 of the girls’ dads.
According to Russell, it was $115 to join and the girls had to pay $10 every time they wanted to trade and $25 if one of their players got fined.
During a ceremony on Wednesday, the girls announced that they were able to raise $5,350 for seven charities: Sierra Vista Child & Family Services, Jessica’s House, Oakland Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Sierra’s Circle, Faith Home Teen Ranch, and Casa de Niños.
“Everyone got to choose their own charity so that way it was unique for who they were raising money for,” said Russell.
Smith chose to raise money for Sierra Vista Child & Family Services since her mom is on the Board of Directors. Smith attends a number of their events herself and sees firsthand the work they do for those who have been neglected or abused.
“They help women with drug issues and get them back on their feet and try to get them to support their children,” said Smith.
Jessica’s House was represented by Sanders, Mikayla Yagi, Roos, and Hooker. Hooker explained that she originally decided to raise money for the grief support center since she is also a counselor there.
“As a nonprofit organization, it is nice to get donations like that to help with activities for the kids,” said Hooker. “They need new projects all the time so it’s good to be able to help them with that. The kids really love it and it helps them come out of grief. It makes a big impact.”
After the ceremony on Wednesday, the girls noted that they are already looking forward to starting the league up again next year and hope that more people either join or establish their own leagues for a good cause.
“This was just a small way to reach out to our community and let people know that Turlock Christian students are very active and we want to help in whatever way we can,” said Mikayla Yagi.