Hornell girl battling cancer will serve as Saxons’ honorary captain
ALFRED, NY – Lacie Olix has always been a huge fan of the Hornell High School football team, cheering for the Red Raiders as they were going unbeaten while winning three straight New York State Class B titles from 2009-11. So, as several former members of those championship teams went on to play at Alfred University, it was only natural that Lacie would become one of the Saxons’ biggest fans as well.
Hornell and Alfred University football have played a significant role in Lacie’s life, especially now that the 14-year-old Hornell High freshman is battling a rare form of cancer. She recently became a part of the AU team, spending an afternoon with the coaching staff and players during a recent Friday practice. Beginning with Saturday’s season opener at home against RPI, and continuing throughout the season, Lacie will serve as the Saxons’ honorary captain.
Paul Vecchio, director of athletics at Alfred University, said Lacie’s father, Mike Olix, contacted Colleen Harvey, department secretary, last week and told her of the struggles his daughter was going through.
“He called here and said (Lacie) was going through a really challenging time. He said she was a huge Hornell fan and started coming to our games when Austin (Dwyer, AU tailback and Hornell High School alumnus) joined the team” in 2010, Vecchio explained. “I called him and said if there’s anything we could do to help, we would. We’d love to have her as an honorary captain throughout the year. He said, ‘absolutely. She’s a huge fan and would love that.’”
Vecchio said he talked to AU head coach Dave Murray about Lacie being an honorary captain and Murray said the team would be happy to have her. The team is scheduled to play its regular-season finale against St. John Fisher in the annual Courage Bowl, which benefits Camp Good Days and Special Times, a Rochester-based non-profit organization that is dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, adults and families touched by cancer and other life-threatening challenges.
Murray suggested Lacie and her family – parents Mike and Tera and younger brother Mikey – attend a practice. They went to last Friday’s session, at which time the team presented Lacie with a Saxon jersey – which she’ll wear at Saturday’s game – and a ball signed by the team captains.
As honorary captain she will lead the Saxons as they walk from just outside Merrill Field, under the grandstand, to the north endzone, where players will be led onto the field by the horse-and-rider team of Alfred the Great and Alden. Lacie will also accompany AU captains to midfield to participate in the pre-game coin toss.
“She’s unbelievably excited,” said Lacie’s father. “What this does for Lacie is give her the motivation to go out and share her story. Anything to put a smile on her face.”
Lacie suffers from Stage 3 C ovarian cancer, a rare form of cancer among adults but almost unheard of in children. “The odds of someone 55 or older getting this type of cancer is 1.4 percent, so the chances of a 14-year-old getting it are one in a million,” said Lacie’s mother. “The doctors have no explanation as to why” Lacie has developed this form of cancer.
Currently, Lacie is undergoing a chemotherapy regimen that sees her go to Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester for a round of chemo one week, then have two weeks to recover. She has been through two rounds of chemotherapy and is scheduled to begin a third on Tuesday, Sept. 17. She will be receiving chemo treatments until the end of February.
Despite her struggles, Lacie has maintained a positive outlook.
“She’s taken things so well. She doesn’t let it get her down,” Tera commented. “She’s been a trooper throughout the whole thing. She doesn’t complain; she always walks around with a smile on her face.”
Sports has always been a part of Lacie’s life, her father said. She has played softball and basketball, and according to her dad was at one time the only girl playing baseball in the Hornell Little League. But as a fan, football is by far her favorite sport. She developed a love for the game when she began regularly attending Hornell High School games several years ago. One of her favorite Hornell players was Dwyer, a star tailback for the Red Raiders who has been a standout on the AU gridiron for four seasons.
“Lacie has followed a lot of the Hornell players. Austin was huge in Hornell, so as soon as he started up there in Alfred, she became more interested in AU football,” Mike explained. “We haven’t missed a Hornell Red Raiders game in six or seven years and we try to make as many Alfred games as we can. Going to football games is just something we’ve always done as a family.”
In addition to Dwyer, four other former Hornell Red Raiders -- all freshmen -- are on this year’s roster: quarterback Dominic Scavo, nose guard Zack Bacon, wide receiver Brendan Buisch and running back James Cipriano.
Lacie has been able to see those familiar faces and meet many other members of her adoptive team. Her father said the experience was great for the whole family. “Going to the practice, we just loved it. It was awesome. The players and coaches chatted with us. The interaction, being down on the field, was really cool. Lacie had a smile on her face the whole time. She’s unbelievably excited” for Saturday’s game.
“She’s can’t wait” for Saturday’s game and for the upcoming AU season, Tera Olix said. “Football is her favorite sport. Anything that she can do outside the house is great for her.”
To learn more about Lacie’s journey and her fight against cancer, please visit the Lacie’s Legion facebook page. A benefit to help raise money to defray expenses related to her medical treatment is set for Sunday, Oct. 6, beginning at noon at the Arkport American Legion. There will be food, musical entertainment from several area bands, karaoke, 50-50 drawings, silent auctions, raffles and a pumpkin-carving contest for kids.
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