VANDERGRIFT (KDKA) — Ellen Toy was not about to miss this.
Even after receiving chemotherapy treatment for hours that morning. Even after having to carry a portable chemo unit. Nothing was going to keep her away, from Jamming the Gym.
“I let them know that today was a very important day,” Ellen told KDKA-TV Sports. “That if I was going to get chemo, I had to be first on the charts, and they made that happen for me.”
Jam the Gym, in its fourth year, is a volleyball triple header — two high school matches, one college — all at Kiski Area High School.
It began as a way to raise money for Kiski Volleyball coach Jaime Moran’s cancer treatments.
We first met Jaime back in 2010 when she was battling leukemia for the third time, shortly after her fellow Kiski coach Ellen Toy beat stomach cancer. Sadly, Jaime lost her fight last year, and in another cruel blow to the Kiski community, Ellen’s cancer came back this year.
She says she thinks of Jaime daily.
“I miss her horribly,” said Ellen. “It’s been a tough year for her family, and that void is going to be there for a very long time.”
Which is why, even while fighting cancer, Ellen wasn’t going to miss this event.
With Jaime gone, the funds raised from Jam the Gym will go towards the Jaime Vick Moran Scholarship Fund, awarded each year to a female student in the Kiski Area School District that lives as Jaime did.
“Someone that’s really involved in the community, a good person, they get good grades,” explains Jaime’s twin sister Jodie McCartney.
The winner doesn’t need to have any ties to cancer, and that’s an intentional decision.
“Jaime didn’t like to be the poster child for cancer,” Jodie said. “She didn’t like the limelight. She wanted to be a normal person. That’s why we didn’t want to just focus on the cancer because there was so much more to her life. The fight and the strength. We knew she wouldn’t want that.”
And though Ellen was forced to resign her coaching duties for the time being, she was an honorary coach to the U.S. Women’s National Team as they faced Serbia.
“And they won!” Ellen said.
Ask any of her former players, they’d say the same about her.
“She’s my inspiration. She’s my hero,” says Kiski senior Rachel Frye. “She’s such a strong woman. She’s a fighter.”