October 09, 2013 - By Maddie Stroin
Review Special Writer
On the court, the Lake Orion varsity volleyball team is fierce and ranked second in Michigan and 41st in the nation.
They have dominated opponents all season en-route to a 27-4-2 record.
But as tough as the team is on the court, they are as gentle and caring young ladies off the court.
Last week the Lake Orion's varsity, junior varsity and freshmen volleyball teams visited Beaumont Hospital in Troy. Each girl brought with her a stuffed animal. These stuffed animals had a piece of Velcro attached so the patients could strap them onto their hospital beds.
The team was helping an organization called Bedside Healers. The organization's mission is to comfort patients and let them know that someone is thinking of them.
Kim Wehner and her two daughters Nicole and Natalie Wehner, who are both players on the varsity team, originally learned about Bedside Healers and its founder, Jason Peach, who got the idea of helping patients when his father became very ill in 2001.
"We feel very fortunate that the Lake Orion High School volleyball team, along with Bedside Healers, have chosen our hospital for their community service project," said Nancy Susick, president, Beaumont Hospital, Troy. "While our hospital is proud to offer the latest in technology, it is often the little things-the caring touches-that bring smiles to our patients."
Natalie Wehner said the gifts were a way to help those in need.
"We all know someone, either family or friends, that have been in the hospital at one point or another. It can be a scary, anxious, or even lonely time. The Bedside Healer is a way of letting them know that there are others that are thinking of them and hope they get well soon."
Varsity head coach Ross Talbott said the project was important to the Lady Dragons.
"We, the coaching staff at Lake Orion, are very proud of the girls and our volleyball program at LOHS. They are just as interested in helping others as they are winning volleyball games. Our goal as coaches is to teach them to win both on the court and off the court, and I think they are doing that right now. Giving back to the community shows what the LOHS volleyball program is about."
The volleyball teams are in the midst of a very challenging season but took time out from their busy practice and game schedule to include handwritten notes to go along with the Bedside Healers for the 50 patients receiving these gifts at Beaumont Hospital.
In the two years that Bedside Healers was started by metro Detroit resident Jason Peach, the organization has donated nearly 1,400 of these stuffed animals to hospitals throughout the country. The company is also host to an online site, The Community, where people who are sick, have been sick, or are taking care of sick people, can come together to communicate and support each other. It is the company's next step in its mission to "always be there."
The volleyball program donated 20 stuffed animals and Jason Peach, owner
of Bedside Healers, donated an additional 30 animals. A card was attached to each animal. The cards contained a picture of one of the volleyball teams and a handwritten note from one of the players.
The varsity, junior varsity and freshmen teams visited the oncology unit at the hospital. They listened to speeches and some of the girls were able to tour the facility. The hospital could not allow 50 people to visit on the floor, so only a couple of the players were allowed to visit patients.
Many of the players were touched by the experience. For some the day reminded them of loved ones or situations they had endured in their past. Others were just touched that they made in a difference in someone's life.
"As we prepared to leave I made sure that I told the girls that they were not only winners on the court, but now they were also winners off the court. I was proud of how the teams represented Lake Orion," Kim Wehner said.
It is easy to remember all the wins and losses or the number of aces averaged that game, but the Lake Orion volleyball program is working to create other memories too.
These moments will stick with the players long after they step off the court.