By Catie Nelson
Before the basketball team headed to the state championship against Cary High School, the school held a pep rally for them on Thursday, March 10th at which Carolina Panthers’ tight end, Greg Olsen, made a special appearance. Olsen came to receive a check for The Heartest yard Foundation that Catholic students raised money for during Catholic School’s Week. The school presented Olsen with a 6,000 dollar check.
The Heartest Yard Foundation was created by the Olsen family after their son, TJ, was born with a severe congenital heart defect. The Olsen’s decided that they were going to give the baby the best chance at his life by providing him access to the best doctors and in home nursing care.
TJ has already endured four surgeries — three open heart procedures and the installation of a pacemaker. When TJ arrived home the Olsen family created a foundation to support other children battling hear defects. Joining with the Levine Children’s Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center made this possible. The HEARTest Yard initiative is a family service program combined with Levine Children’s Hospital located in Charlotte, NC. This program provides families of babies affected by congenital heart disease with a multitude of services, including in-home, private nursing care, physical therapy, and speech therapy among other benefits.This helps families to live their lives with a child born with a heart disease.
Greg came to the pep rally with his wife, Kara and three kids, Tate, Talbot, and TJ. After he was presented to the check, he spoke to the school and thanked us for our donation and told us how our money would help other families. He also had a free throw competition with Josh Brodowicz. “I will never forget the experience. Not many people get to meet Panthers players and get to do a shooting contest with them, “ said Josh Brodowicz.
After the rally, he spoke to the basketball team in the health room. Coach King said, “He talked to the team about enjoying the experience and win or lose having no regrets. It was an honor. Greg has experienced success on every level and for him to be willing to share his thoughts with the team fantastic.”