Valley City State Women’s Basketball Team Rallies Around Girl with Down Syndrome
Team members and supporters walked Lily Rudnick at Gigi's PlayHouse Walk and Fest in Fargo
FARGO, N.D. — The Valley City State Vikings women’s basketball team has had plenty of success over the last few years, finishing 25-5 with a trip to the NAIA National Tournament last season.
But the team’s true heart and soul doesn’t suit up on the court. Instead, Lily Rudnick, 10, pumps up the Vikings with her energy and strength.
“Over the last three years, she has grown into part of our family. Now we take actually take her to events on the weekends and take her to different events so she’s basically like a little sister to us now,” said Dierra Diegel, a senior forward for the Vikings.
From day one, Rudnick has rocked the maroon and white, holding the title of the team’s biggest fan.
“She always comes to my daughter’s basketball games, cheers her on, and finally she feels like everyone’s cheering her on today,” said Paul Diegel, one of the people who walked with Lily as part of Gigi’s Playhouse Walk and Fest.
Gigi’s Playhouse is a national organization that has a branch office in Fargo which provides educational, purposeful, and free programming to kids and adults with Down Syndrome within the community. They serve over 125 families in the area.
Even though Valley City is 60 miles away, Rudnick’s teammates say the drive to support their cheerleader is worth it.
“It’s so cool. She’s been looking forward to this for months now. We got the costumes, we got everything else, so it’s definitely cool. It’s good for Lily to be a superstar for a day,” said Dierra Diegel.
With her teammates and family behind her, Rudnick will continue to flex her muscles and serve up smiles to everyone she meets.
The annual event is in October for Down Syndrome Awareness Month.