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Diver’s plight inspires project

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Amanda Gabriela Beltran
Staff Writer

The University community gathered in the Campus Center ballroom Tuesday to make fleece tie blankets for the Linus Project, a nonprofit organization that donates blankets to families in need and ill children.

The La Verne swim team organized the event because they were inspired by Andrew Tompkins, a diver on the swim team who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in December.

The disease is among the most common bone cancers that weakens otherwise strong bone tissue.

Tompkins has been going through chemotherapy and is scheduled for surgery next week.

Head swim coach Pat Skehan said the team has been collecting notes from rival teams and videos from other ULV sports teams to support Tompkins and his journey.

“We’re trying to collaborate to give it to him so as he goes into the next hurdle, there will be a lot of energy and he’ll be positive,” Skehan said.

Sophomore Campus Activities Board philanthropy chairwoman Courtney Oberholtz helped the swim team put on the event. She said when she heard about Tompkins’ journey, she wanted to support him and others in any way she could.

“I knew Andrew freshman year and I think any opportunity to give back to the community is important,” Oberholtz said.

The proudest moment for Skehan was watching how positive Tompkins has stayed throughout his journey.

Skehan said he is a thoughtful and spectacular person.

“He has stepped up to the plate and worked to include everyone, and he’s grateful for everything he has gotten and relishes the support he has gotten from all the Leos,” Skehan said.

Senior kinesiology major Angelica Diangelo said she enjoyed being at the event with her softball teammates as well as other athletes and students who wanted to support Tompkins.

“It’s cool to see how we can come together as a university and its not specifically just one group of people,” Diangelo said.

Junior biology major Janelle Pedroza attended the event with friends to support Tompkins, even though she didn’t know him personally.

“I was aware of it because I saw it on social media and he has an Instagram page to track his journey,” Pedroza said.

University of La Verne alumna Mary Hanna was a part of the swim team during her time at La Verne.

She said that the team is a tight knit family and they have to support each other during the good and the bad times.

“The team is a family, but we’re also all Leos and it doesn’t matter what sport you’re in, you should always support other athletes,” Hanna said.

Hanna said another important aspect was that supporters are also helping others while helping Tompkins.

“If he sees all of us coming together and coming to support him, I think it will really bring a lot of positivity to him and the fight that he is going through,” Hanna said.

More than 100 people attended the event which Skehan said was the most exciting part for her and one of the reasons they put on the event.

“We wanted to help people be aware on campus and to have him know that are hoping he gets better,” Skehan said.

Amanda Gabriela Beltran can be reached at amanda.beltran@laverne.edu.

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