Fans turned out in droves, packing the gymnasium’s bleachers to capacity, with more than a hundred others standing alongside, all in support of Lauren Lenardi, a 14-year old ninth grade Kings Park high school student and starter on the junior varsity girls’ soccer team who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She has undergone aggressive treatment since being diagnosed shortly before Christmas.
“Lauren and her family are just a typical Kings Park family, where everybody loves them and they’ll do anything for anybody,” said Kings Park physical education teacher Bridget Keenan shortly before another thunderous roar spilled through gymnasium Thursday night.
Kings Park’s varsity and junior varsity girls’ soccer teams helped create the Love 4 Lauren fundraiser, which included a bake sale, bandana sale as well as over 60 outstanding specially themed gift baskets and raffles donated by Kings Park families, organizations, school clubs and current and retired district teachers.
The Lady Kingsmen recently sported Lauren's name on the back of their tye-dyed shirts that they made for the fundraiser that was held back on Jan. 6. “Lauren is a sweet person, a great kid who always smiles and who’s always pleasant to everyone,” Keenan said.
Supporters for Lauren’s cause flooded the hallways, buying raffle tickets and writing get well wishes on cut out hearts to be posted on the walls outside the auditorium. Supporters were also able to purchase homemade treats, baked by friends and loved ones, all of which seemed to echo the sentiments of everyone in the packed crowd; “Lauren, we LOVE YOU.”
The excitement and mood was palpable. Coach Keenan expressed her pride in the amount of support and generosity shown by the Thursday night crowd.
“I’m amazed and overwhelmed by the compassion that Kings Park has and all of the raffles which were donated for Lauren, no questions asked,” said Keenan. “People were just throwing down money, before the event even started; we had thousands of dollars [to help offset some of her medical expenses]," she said.
Although Lauren wasn’t able to be in attendance on Thursday because she wasn’t feeling well, it was clear to all the atmosphere in Kings Park’s gymnasium was one of cohesiveness with a united goal, to show support for one of their own.
“Our prayers and our thoughts are with Lauren all the time,” said Keenan. “The Kings Park Community has been amazing in their response to help out and they always step up to the plate when a family is in need.”
“She’s the type of person who you can always count on, she has an outstanding work ethic and she’s a great role model. You can’t ask for a better kid than that… she’s very loved here, you can see that by the turnout that we have tonight," said Keenan.
Anyone interested in making a donation, please make a check out to KPHS Varsity Club and send it to:
WTR Middle School, 97 Old Dock Rd, Kings Park NY 11754. Attention: Bridget Keenan