Niagara Gazette — “We had just started tryouts when Jessica passed away,” Melanie Proefrock said. “So the team knew back in March about this girl’s story and her struggle.”
That made it a no-brainer when Gonyea broached the idea of highlighting childhood cancer to both Melanie and Jim Proefrock. Having children of their own, the decision was easy for them to make.
“As soon as you become a parent, if you’re not already in tune and sympathetic to the needs of children, it only intensifies 500 times,” Melanie Proefrock said. “You realize how important health is and how fragile the life of a child is.”
As a result, the Proefrocks had T-shirts made with Stone’s initials printed on the sleeve for the event. At the time, they hadn’t realized that Jim Scherrer passed away from a primitive neuroectodermal tumor, a form of Ewing’s sarcoma, when Mariah was just a few months old.
When Mariah, who helped design the shirts, informed her coaches of the circumstances, the initials became multi-purposed.
“It’s actually a little bit eerie,” Melanie Proefrock said. “It just worked out that way.”
“It really means a lot to me,” Mariah Scherrer said.
The Falcons are teaming up with Carly’s Club for the event. Carly’s Club is an organization that offers support programs for children diagnosed with cancer and raises money for pediatric cancer research at Roswell Park.
Olivia Gonyea will be in attendance, handing out yellow paper ribbons that have Jessica Stone’s and Jim Scherrer’s stories printed on them. The team has been selling donation place cards to raise money. In addition, donations will be collected at the gate, a 50/50 raffle will occur and concession stand sales for the day will be given to Carly’s Club.
Melanie Proefrock said that, while some of her girls may play with heavier hearts than usual, the emotion they’re aiming to channel isn’t sadness, but appreciation.