West High softball holds cancer fundraiser


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Last year, Ellyn Found was the main organizer of Iowa City West’s annual Coaches vs. Cancer softball fundraiser.

This year, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“We were all in shock when we found out,” said Jill Tresslar, an organizer of this year’s event. “Ellyn is a beautiful lady. She would do anything for anyone … We decided this year to donate everything [to] pancreatic-cancer research.”

Tresslar and the other event coordinators sold raffle tickets and purple T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “Team Ellyn” at the event, which was held during West’s softball double-header with Cedar Rapids Prairie on Monday evening. The shirts were designed and sold by Found’s daughter Catharine Found, a West graduate and senior at Trinity University.

“Seeing everyone out here and seeing all the support is the main thing,” Catharine Found said. “It’s been really great … She loves all the support.”

Proceeds from the event will benefit the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics’ Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The love and support for Ellyn Found was evident, and the Found family was repeatedly showered by encouragement and well-wishes during the game.

“Every one of us involved in this, [and] it really hit home,” said Kim Klein, another volunteer who helped at the fundraiser. “Ellyn would be right here doing this if she were well. “She is probably the most giving one of all of us.”

Tresslar and Klein collected donations from local businesses in the weeks leading up to the fundraiser. The donations, including tickets to Hawkeye athletics events and a shirt signed by legendary Hawkeye wrestling coach Dan Gable, were raffled off between the games of the double-header with the Hawks, who wore pink ribbons on their jerseys as a show of support.

The volunteers said it was tough for Ellyn Found to not take part in this year’s fundraiser.

“She would be heading up this event today if she were well,” Klein said.

It would have a natural fit — her younger daughter, Caroline Found, is an outfielder for the West Trojans. Her team took the field Monday night wearing special purple camouflage jerseys to support her mother’s fight against cancer.

“Sports are a great way to advocate things like this,” Catharine Found said.

Klein said the Coaches vs. Cancer fundraisers at West have done very well in the past, and they typically bring in more than $1,000 each year. The school holds a fundraiser of this kind in almost every sport, with the proceeds going to cancer research.

And even though Ellyn Found was unable to attend on Monday, Catharine Found said she is responding very well to treatment and will enter her fifth round of chemotherapy this week.

“She’s holding up really well,” Catharine Found said. “We’re all really proud of her.”