COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Members of the Ohio State University women’s soccer team past and present came together Sunday to host a blood drive in support of one of their own.
Amy Graeff Van Culin played for the Buckeyes in the mid to late 2000s, and when she was recently diagnosed with lymphoma, her Scarlet and Gray family kicked their support into high gear.
“Amy and I, neither one of us have sisters, so we are like sisters.”
A bond Emily Kaplan created with her teammate when they first stepped onto the soccer field at Ohio State.
“We are teammates in life,” Kaplan said.
So when Van Culin was diagnosed with double-hit lymphoma a month after giving birth to her second child, Kaplan and the Buckeye soccer community rallied to start Amy’s Army.
“The Buckeye family is strong whether you were an actual teammate or not, so we knew we could count on that group of people to come out and show love,” Kaplan said.
To step up and show love, former coaches, players, and family hosted a blood drive with the American Red Cross in Amy’s name.
“It can save three lives and Amy said that’s what it’s all about, you know, ‘people are working to save my life and I want to help save other people’s lives,’” Wilma Graeff, Amy’s mother, said.
Since Van Culin couldn’t attend the blood drive due to her compromised immune system, her friends created a cardboard cutout of her that donors took photos with and signed personal messages of prayers and get-well wishes.
“Haven’t even really be able to give her a hug, so it was one of the few things we could do from afar to show our support,” Kaplan said.
Van Culin is scheduled to undergo a stem cell transplant in mid-August to hopefully get back to her life before cancer.
“And she has good days, but you know, she’s got these two little babies and she wants to play soccer, she’s an assistant prosecutor, she wants to help her victims in the SVU unit,” Graeff said.
Her teammates, friends, and loved ones are all donating blood and raising money through t-shirt sales to support Van Culin and her family. They hope to take the field alongside her healthy and strong once again.
“She is so loved and she was always the teammate that had your back, so this is the perfect opportunity for us to have her back,” Kaplan said.
For more on Amy’s Army, click here.