NEW ORLEANS — After overcoming an injury last year and helping his swim team win the state title, Holy Cross freshman Drew Launey wanted to help inspire a local family overcome their own obstacles.
Saturday morning at 7:30, Launey plans to swim 200 times back and forth in the Cypress Lakes Country Club pool in Destrehan to help pay for 1-year-old Blakely Estevez's medical bills.
And it's snowballed. A hospital administrator is joining him to help Blakely, so are 20 other Holy Cross current and former swimmers.
Blakely was diagnosed with a rare cancer on her kidney when she was nine months old.
This was just after her family lost their home in Norco to Hurricane Ida and moved in with a relative in Gretna, while their home is being repaired.
Between jobs as a firefighter in Houma and Jefferson Parish, Blakely’s family didn’t have medical insurance coverage when Blakely was diagnosed with cancer. The Estevez family is now faced with medical bills for the surgeries, doctors’ visits and chemotherapy that are part of Blakely’s treatment.
That's when Launey, noticed a new family in his neighborhood and felt the call to make a difference.
“Because she can't do anything for herself," Launey said. "Because she can't walk or talk.”
Last school year, Launey helped his fellow Holy Cross tigers win the state title in swimming. It was an act of courage and perseverance as he fought back from a broken pelvis to swim that day. His doctor at Children's Hospital was not sure that he could do it.
“Because Dr. Skalak told me that if I swam, that it would inspire people to continue going through it," Launey said. "But how am I going to inspire someone?”
Now Launey is using that lesson from his doctor to lift up the Estevez family. With his original fundraiser goal set to $500 for the Estevez family, Launey has now far outraised that number more than $3,500.
“We’re very grateful for him and impressed by his strive to do it,” said Abbie Estevez, Blakely’s mother.
Launey has also received support from team-mates who have dedicated themselves to the cause.
“It will totally be worth it. I think, I think I could wake up at 4:00 in the morning for this.” Last year’s team captain, Aiden Anthaume, said. “It doesn't matter what time. I hope that I can do something greater than myself, help someone out that wasn't getting to get help before,”
Recently, Blakely got to ring the Children's Hospital bell. Her chemo is done.
You can sponsor one of the swimmers for Saturday morning for $10.
Or you can help Blakely's medical fund with any amount by clicking here. The GoFundMe goal for the Estevez family is $100,000.