North Park, for the Win! 

As I sit down to reflect on last night, I realize there’s no way any blog post can do the night justice. There are no words that can appropriately capture the love we felt, the laughs we had, the incredible walk down memory lane that it was & the overwhelming feel of support from our North Park family that’s very clearly walking alongside us in this battle. And boy are they rooting for us hard.

Y’all, the gym was packed to its gills.  It was truly surreal. 

This was my first adventure out into the wild since October. My world, for a lot of different reasons, has been a bubble between doctors, my family and a few closest friends. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous heading into the night. I know this blog is very public but it’s also very controlled in how I deal with this all. There’s no control when facing the public & that’s a lot of vulnerability when dealing with something as harsh as our reality. Thankfully my first surprise of the day was my sister & the Von walking into our house just before we left. I felt a little braver just by having my sister by my side. So brave in fact, I put jeans on!  I can’t tell you how quickly all my fears melted away as I walked into the gym. I was handed my green & orange shirt (amazing), saw the team was sporting them as shooting shirts, and the place was decked out in teal and orange. We were enveloped in support from the moment we walked in. And then I saw Lauren. Talk about the biggest hug ever. There aren’t enough words in the world to thank her for yesterday. She was the catalyst for the evening & what a night did she put on. Lauren and I were teammates at NPU and she’s the assistant coach there now. She taught me everything I know about shooting the 3 and she sure as heck played a lot more D than me. We listened to a lot of Spirit in the Sky during our playing days. 

The next hug was P. Al (Professor Al Kamienski), our business professor. This guy changed the course of my college career (and now life) when I took my first business class with him. He set me up with an interview for an internship one summer with KIPP, one of his biggest clients at the time, and the rest was history in terms of how amazing that experience worked out to be in my life. A lot of my success in my career and life goes right back to how he pushed me in college. I love the idea of making him proud! And then, my teammate, my roommate & quite possibly the most hilarious human in the world, Anna & her husband Jerad. My favorite part about all of these guys- nothing has changed. Anna is just one of those that is so fun and easy to be around, an instant lift to your spirits. She is the most encouraging person and the fact that she and Jerad drove down for us (after a Disney on Ice adventure no less!!) meant the absolute world to me. I cannot wait for this all to pass and get back in the game of making memories with these guys. Anna & I lived a block down from Mount & Lauren (and Lily, that dang cat that loved Lauren more) on Spaulding Ave when we played, we were saying at the end of the night how badly we wish we were walking home there for a night of shenanigans. I don’t miss those radiatiors though A!! There was an entire section of fans in our teal shirts – family, friends & professors, including two of my absolute faves Professor Dluger & Professor Trujillo, who showed up on our behalf. There are too many to list and I would inevitably forget someone if I did but having each and everyone of you there meant the world to us. It’s humbling. It’s inspiring. Thank you so, so much. I will say a special thanks to our road warriors Uncle Ted & Blondie who drove up from Indy. Always love getting to watch & talk basketball with Uncle Ted.  And also to our great friends Eric & Kelley that drove up from Columbus, IN to surprise us. Nothing like a big bear hug from Eric!! They’re getting married in October and I did ask Eric a couple times last night if he was sure he really could trust Kevin as his best man. 😂And of course my tiniest fan, Miss H! Before the men’s game President Parkyn, Coach Crockett (women’s basketball) & Coach Conway (football) honored me & Kevin and Hallie with a few gifts and truly incredible words. P. Al than took the mic and my goodness, he made us laugh and boy was he on a mission to make me cry! In a very good way. His words honored Hallie in the most perfect way. I didn’t even realize how much we needed that. One thing last night taught me is a walk in your life is never just a point in time. The people you meet, the experiences you have always come full circle and my goodness did the North Park community rise to the occasion last night.

A special thanks also to Coach Conway and his football squad that were running the show with the raffles on our behalf. Kevin will be due up for a blog post on everything North Park football did for his life (and ours), including giving us some of our best friends in the world & of course the perseverance they all learned through those long, um, character building 1-9 seasons. (Sorry, had too.)Here are my coaches and a few of my teammates. I have so many amazing memories of my basketball career at NPU, thanks in large part to these guys & all our other teammates.  We will be spending a lot of time processing all the emotion from last night. I’m still feeling all the feels so I know this post doesn’t even scratch the surface of what last night did for us. It inspired us, truly. There was so much love in that gym. North Park is such a special place for me and Kevin and there will be a way, I promise, in which we pay forward the impact you all had on us last night. 

A million thanks North Park, we will hold on to that night forever. We are so grateful. And a huge thank you for the competitive kick for the home stretch of treatment. I wanted to play some ball so bad last night, it’ll be top on my list to get some shots up once I’m healthy. I did shoot a 3 last night and I think it barely made it to the paint. I said it was because of the cancer, my Dad said I was fouled. Either way, this body has a long way to go. And no Coach, no 20 suicides in 20 minutes in my future. 😂 

Thank you everyone!!

Kevin & Beef 

PS: If anyone took pictures last night, I would love you forever if you could email them to me at bethany.conrad@gmail.com. Thank you!! 

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