LITTLETON — Student-athletes from Dakota Ridge and Chatfield high schools worked together Feb. 9 to bring joy to children going through battles of their own.
“It’s really important,” Dakota Ridge senior Koby Ryckman said about working with Chatfield outside of the basketball court. “These kids are going through so much at such a young age. My favorite thing is doing it with a rival school.”
Girls and boys basketball players from Dakota Ridge and Chatfield joined forces for a couple of hours in the afternoon Friday to host a Valentine’s Day craft party at Children’s Hospital. More than 20 students, coaches and administrators from the two rival South Jeffco high schools made the trip to Aurora.
“It’s super cool to reach out to kids that need a bright light in their day,” Chatfield junior Christian Holmes said. “It’s super cool to have fun with them and enjoy some time with them.”
Dakota Ridge senior Maggie Hawley was busy helping the steady flow of in-patient children who came down from their rooms to design Valentine’s Day cards.
“It’s important to develop community awareness,” Hawley said. “Sports aren’t the most important thing. People are struggling and going through stuff. It’s important to help them out and make them feel better.”
While Dakota Ridge and Chatfield has done a number of joint ventures like last Friday’s, it doesn’t stop there. The Eagles and Chargers have a varsity basketball doubleheader schedule for Tuesday, Feb. 13, where it will be a “Gold Out” for Childhood Cancer Awareness.
The girls (5:30 p.m.) and boys (7 p.m.) on Tuesday night will feature several events to raise funds for Dakota Ridge junior football player Christian Fredrickson who is battling a rare cancer.
“It’s a rival game and we know it will be a packed crowd with Chatfield and us,” Dakota Ridge athletic director Matt Heckel said. “It’s a great chance to showcase the great things we can do as a community in our south area.”
Heckel added that Fredrickson is doing well through is battle with cancer.
“It’s been a really hard thing for our school,” Ryckman said. “It’s cool that we can do something like that (Gold Out) for him and to show that we are with him and all fighting with him.”
While Chatfield and Dakota Ridge basketball teams are focused on getting ready for the state tournaments that begin next week, they both know some things are more important than games.
“We go at it on the basketball court, but it’s fun to come together to help out kids,” Holmes said. “We can put that rivalry aside, have fun and help other people.”