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Lady SoccerDawgs help Katrina victim they find in Chattanooga

Imagine losing everything you own.

Not having any money and trying to raise a 1-year-old child. For the state’s No. 5-ranked Class AAA Bearden Lady SoccerDawgs, a recent trip to a Chattanooga tournament put these questions in perspective when they met a Hurricane Katrina victim.

In what started as a journey through the lobby in search of a washing machine, BHS assistant coach Linda Radcliffe spotted a sign, one that would change not only the trip but the rest of her team’s lives.

The sign was inviting Hurricane Katrina victims to have dinner at a local church. After reading the sign, Radcliffe asked if there was anything that she and her team could do to help. The desk clerk called the families that were staying in the La Quinta hotel.

Of the 15 families that were staying in the hotel, the first 14 were unable to be contacted, so what seemed to be a pleasant attempt to help looked slim.

“The last lady said she didn’t need any help, she had money, insurance, but she said you might check with my stepdaughter [Sadie],” Radcliffe said. “So we called her and I told her who I was and I said is there anything we can do to help? She said she didn’t know how to explain her circumstance and I said she didn’t have to explain anything and I explained that our girls would like to help.”

That day the team was going to the mall to get some lunch when Radcliffe explained the situation to her team. “I asked my girls if they would like to give the money to the girl to help her out and all thirty-seven girls gave money.

“Not only their lunch money but many of them gave more and we tucked the money into an envelope and handed it to her,” she added. “She cried when every single girl hugged her. It was very touching and it also made the whole Katrina issue a personal one.

“We only helped one person but it was one girl with a baby.”

For senior captains Pua Coffman and Sarah Himmelreich, “It’s really emotional and we weren’t really ready for it because we were pumping for the game and all of a sudden she came out and she had a little one-year-old boy and she was crying,” Coffman said. “It feels so good to be able to do something for someone because we are so far away from Louisiana that we feel insignificant besides calling on the phone and donating money.

“It was a real life experience so it feels really great.”

For Himmelreich it was more of the same emotions.

“I am really not much of an emotional person but I started to cry when she came out ... it was overwhelming,” she said. “I wasn’t ready at all for it. Her 1-year-old was smiling and you could tell he hadn’t had a clean diaper in ages, it was amazing.”

To Sadie, it was a miracle.

“She came out and said that she hasn’t changed clothes in days and she probably smelled horrible and we were, like, you obviously haven’t been around soccer girls, we all smell bad,” Coffman said.

“She was so emotional and thankful and she told us that that morning she had prayed to God and said ‘you have to take care of us because I have no money, I have nothing’ and two or three hours later this happened.

“I never thought I would see someone from [New Orleans] to actually give her our money rather than just giving it to charity, not really knowing where it was going,” Coffman added.


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