By SCOTT COTTOS
Thom Loomis knows what Fostoria is capable of doing when someone needs help.
The Fostoria High School head boys basketball coach has lived in the city his entire life, so he’s hoping the citizenry can again rally around a cause and support a fundraising event planned for Feb. 18.
Abi Brouwer of Perrysburg, the 16-year-old niece of third-year Redmen freshman boys basketball coach Mark Lair, will have surgery to remove a brain tumor Tuesday at the University of Michigan’s Mott Children’s Hospital. She and her parents, Jason and Andrea Brouwer, are expected to learn that day whether the tumor is benign or malignant and what the following course of action will be. In any case, she will spend the next four or five days in intensive care before being allowed to go home.
Lair, who is Andrea Brouwer’s brother, is attending Heidelberg University in addition to coaching and is very close with his family. Loomis thought first of helping him with gas cards and other items, but the idea grew to assist the entire family.
The Redmen not only will take on New Riegel on Feb. 18 at FHS, but they also will host an #AbisWarriors Benefit Dinner in the junior/senior high cafeteria from 5 to 7 p.m. to assist Abi’s family. #AbisWarriors is the social-media hashtag that has been adopted for her supporters.
“I’ve had a lot of good experiences in my career and in my lifetime here with how Fostoria always comes together when something needs to be done,” Loomis said. “We’ve already had tremendous response.”
Loomis said the Redmen Club has made a contribution, while cheerleading coach Melissa Mason has decided to donate all of the money collected from that night’s halftime shootout. He said between eight and 10 serving volunteers have been secured and Holly Reinbolt, food service director for Fostoria City Schools, has been good to work with in regard to meal preparation.
Abi, her brother and her mother attended Tuesday night’s home game against Lake, where the Redmen surprised Lair by donning shirts with “Be Courageous” printed across the front. And just as they did Tuesday night, Loomis said, the team will use them as pre-game shooting shirts for the rest of the season.
Andrea Brouwer said she was informed of how well Fostoria responds to a cause and she’s been grateful to see it develop.
“We’re excited,” she said. “We were surprised, for sure. We’re definitely humbled. It’s really neat to see how the team has rallied around my brother and our family. It’s cool to see how the community has rallied. It’s not even our local community. We live in Perrysburg and it’s just really neat to see how far the support has gone. It’s just amazing and we feel the prayers and the well wishes. They’re definitely getting us through.”
Andrea Brouwer said Abi, a member of the Toledo Notre Dame Academy girls soccer team who is now practicing with her travel team, began having small seizures in her face in October. Eventually, an MRI detected a tumor and surgery was scheduled. Abi has an extra bit of support, with her cousin, Dr. Kerri Neville, as part of her medical team.
Andrea said Abi has been the family’s rock in the last several months.
“It’s very overwhelming, for sure,” she said. “Abi’s doing great. We’re definitely getting our strength from her. She’s plowing through like any 16-year-old girl would. She’s like, ‘I got this.’ She just wants to do it, get it over with and move on with her life. We’re trying to take that attitude, just like she has. She’s doing very well, which is a blessing for sure.”
Andrea said she hopes for either her or her husband to be among the family members attending the dinner at FHS, while Abi will be at home recuperating. A donation of $8 will include beef or chicken tacos, rice, beans, dessert and a drink. Carry-out will be available. A bake sale and raffles are also planned.
The night’s games will have Fostoria’s freshman team meeting McComb at 4:45 p.m., followed by FHS meeting New Riegel in junior varsity and varsity play.
Tickets are available in advance from the Fostoria boys basketball coaching staff, by texting 419-619-0347 or by emailing to email@example.com. Donations will also be accepted.