Inspiring Okeechobee: Lexi and Lauren enjoy homecoming as OHS ‘Goes Gold’

OKEECHOBEE — Perhaps you have seen signs around town telling you to “Go Gold” and asked yourself, what is that all about? Perhaps you have let the signs blur into the backdrop of our community and were not aware that September was Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Lauren Coffey and honorary cheerleader Lexi Villalpando had a great time at the Okeechobee High School Homecoming football game.

Currently only about 4 percent of funding for cancer research is designated specifically for children’s cancer. Local women whom you have heard about in past Inspiring columns, Vanessa Villalpando and Elizabeth Broadrick, are the two women who brought this issue to our attention.

Although Hurricane Irma would wreak havoc on the signs posted, one young lady in our community made sure this effort did not go unnoticed, by ensuring that one local cancer patient had the time of her life. It is here at the crossroads between childhood and adulthood, two local high school girls will have an unbreakable bond. Lexi and Lauren — who were OHS cheerleaders together, even if just for one night. Lauren made sure it would be a night Lexi would never forget.

Lexi is a two-time survivor of cancer, having had it first in infancy and now as a high school student. This past week, Lexi enjoyed her celebrity status as the entire high school “went gold” for her and other children who suffer from cancer. As homecoming festivities began, and designs were painted on the field in advance of the homecoming football game, Lauren Coffey, an OHS senior, was behind the scenes to include Lexi as an honorary cheerleader.

For a girl who just wanted to fit in and do “girl” things, this was a dream come true.
Lauren Coffey decided to stand up and be a voice for “Go Gold” at OHS. Vanessa, mother of Lexi, thanked Lauren on Facebook. Here is an excerpt: “Let me tell you all a little bit more about this amazing young lady. She’s the true meaning of human kindness. Our world needs more Laurens in it! She’s the reason why my Lexi was an honorary cheerleader and is now part of an amazing cheer-squad! This awesome squad and amazing coach have made Lexi one of their own, but all of this was only possible because Lauren decided to stand up and be a voice for Go Gold.”

Vanessa continues: “She (Lauren) locked arms with Elizabeth Broadrick and I to make this year’s homecoming football game one to remember. This amazing young lady has gone over and beyond. She saw our vision and she blew it completely out of the OHS football field. Lauren is already a very busy senior but she didn’t let that stop her. She reached out to as many parents in Okeechobee whose babies have been touched by cancer because she wanted to have as many real-life heroes honored and be part of this year’s Homecoming game. She never asked to be recognized, nor did she even tell anyone how hard she had worked to help make all this possible, but we saw her! She put herself aside even though she had so much going on herself: school work, practice, wood hauling, helping Lexi learn her cheers, putting up gold ribbons, making amazing honorary signs for our babies and the list goes on! The BEST part of all of this … is that Lauren gave my Lexi something no one has ever given to her or will ever come close. She gave my Lexi a moment of normalization, a moment of no worries, a moment of a beautiful memory that she gets to hold onto for a lifetime to come, and she gave me a moment that I will forever hold in my heart. To see my baby feel like a normal teenager and take it all in was a moment that is indescribable!”

Lexi, for your courageous spirit despite the most difficult of odds, and Lauren, for your incredible kindness, you both inspired this community. Job well done!


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