The Oklahoma Christian University men’s basketball team may be taking on Lubbock Christian University in the Nest on Thursday, but the teams are working together to raise funds for one of LCU’s own.
Lubbock Christian volleyball player Malori Maddox was rushed to the hospital during her game on Nov. 11, after she lost vision in her right eye. She was diagnosed with a brain aneurism and immediately underwent a five-hour surgery. Maddox spent two weeks in intensive care before she eventually began to breath and eat on her own.
“Malori was a normal student, going to school and playing in a volleyball game and suddenly her world changed,” senior Kelsie Wright said. “It is scary and sad, but her faith through her struggle has been inspiring. Malori is doing a lot better and she can now walk, run and talk. Her recovery has been amazing.”
Maddox has since been released from the hospital and is recovering in Dallas. She was featured last month on the “Today” show.
“I’m so humbled and grateful beyond words to God and all the vessels he has used to bring so much peace and comfort to my family and me,” Maddox said. “You might think ‘How could something like this bring joy,’ but honestly, this whole journey has been like a big pep rally for me. The prayers, encouraging notes and texts and kind deeds have absolutely flooded my heart with joy.”
Since many on campus know Maddox and her family, Wright and the Oklahoma Christian Student PR Firm said they wanted to find a way to help with her medical expenses and asked the men’s basketball team to use its game against LCU as a way to raise funds for the teen.
“We have a long history of athletic competition with our sister school, Lubbock Christian,” Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach Rob McKinzie said. “We are very close with the various coaching staffs. When they hurt, we hurt, and when they have reason to celebrate, we try to celebrate their success as well.”
The fundraiser will include a half-court-shot contest and free-throw competition during the halftime of the men’s game. There will be a social club competition, in which the clubs will attempt to raise the most money for Maddox, and donation buckets will be distributed in the stands.
“As athletes, we tend to stick together, and we knew we had to help out anyway we could,” men’s basketball captain Jordan Rutherford said. “During the course of the game we’re going to be battling it out with each other, but outside of the lines we’re all people. There’s more important things than athletics and there is nothing more valuable than someone’s life.”
The Eagles will host LCU at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in the Nest with hopes of a full house.
“We always want to pack the Nest, especially when we play a longtime rival from our Sooner Athletic Conference days, and we tend to have good crowds when we play schools like York or LCU because of all the common relationships,” McKinzie said. “But in this case, we really hope that people will also come out because they have heard about Malori’s story and they want to show their support by contributing a little to help with her medical and rehab expenses.”
McKinzie said he hopes the fundraiser will be a chance for the Oklahoma Christian campus to come together and he urges everyone in the Edmond area to make the trek to the Nest.
“We understand that sportsmanship extends beyond the playing field,” McKinzie said. “Hopefully our student-athletes and the campus community can see that our athletic programs are not focused solely on the competition. We also want to develop the spiritual, social and academic sides of all involved. This is one way we can serve a campus community and give back to others that are in need.”
Since November, Malori has used the turn of events to show how God works in her life and can work in others lives too. Wright said Malori’s reaction to her situation reaches beyond herself and her family.
“I hope her story inspires Oklahoma Christian students, faculty and fans as much as it has inspired me,” Wright said. “She has a testimony of faith, and raising money for her is a way Oklahoma Christian can show our love and support.”
Maddox’s time on the volleyball court may be over for now, but she said she is refusing to let that keep her from enjoying life.
“My current plans are to finish therapy as strong as I can and get back to school to finish my remaining academic requirements there,” Maddox said. “My major is physical therapy so hopefully this experience can allow me to relate to my future patients and help them.”
Maddox said she wants to thank the Oklahoma Christian campus for its continuous prayers and encouragement.
“The support from OC has been over the top,” Maddox said. “There are literally no words to express my gratitude to them for all they have done, from prayers to the fundraiser. Thank you Oklahoma Christian for being a vessel of God’s love.”
Those interested in learning more about Malori’s fight can go to Facebook.com/PrayforMalori. Oklahoma Christian said students and faculty can use the Twitter hashtags #prayforMalori and #bucketsforMalori to raise awareness for her cause.