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Heart of Central Texas: Killeen ISD volleyball coaches honor fellow coach's husband with bracelets

Harker Heights Coach Alina Wilder's husband James passed away in June from pancreatic cancer. Other KISD coaches started a bracelet campaign in his honor.

KILLEEN, Texas — A group of Killeen ISD volleyball coaches are putting aside competition for something bigger than the game.

They are honoring the husband of a fellow coach who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

"Not only do we compete against each other but we look out for each other and support each other," Merdith Shaw-Moore, head coach of the Shoemaker High volleyball team, said.

Shaw-Moore, Sarah Stolley, Ellison High head volleyball coach, and Crystal Partlow, head coach of Killeen High volleyball, call their relationship a sisterhood. And now they are rallying around their other sister, Harker Heights head coach Alina Widler.

Wilder's husband James passed away on June 25th from pancreatic cancer.

"I hold onto his laughter, his smile, he smiled through everything," Wilder said.

It was his third time battling cancer, but in the midst of it all, he always made time for volleyball- whether it was watching his daughter play or supporting his wife.

"He's been her rock and so just knowing that we wanted to do something in honor of him for her," Stolley said.

Stolley said she wanted to get James's name everywhere to celebrate who he was so she started a bracelet campaign. 

The $2 bracelets are purple for pancreatic cancer awareness.

"We're going to donate all the proceeds in his name to MD Anderson for cancer research," Coach Stolley said, of donating to the Houston-area cancer center.

Partlow volleyball played alongside Wilder at Ellison High School years ago and said being a part of this campaign is special because her husband is a pancreatic cancer survivor.

"It means a lot actually because of both of our personal stories," Partlow said. "It really touches home particularly for me and my husband."

In less than one month, 700 bracelets have been sold and about $1800 raised.
Wilder said she's grateful for the support she's received from everyone in the community and from her volleyball sisters.

"This is not something easy to go through," Wilder noted. "You need your people, you need your family and your village, and they are definitely my sisters forever."

If you would like to purchase a bracelet you can send an email to Coach Shaw-Moore (merdith.shawmoore@killeenisd.org),  Coach Stolley  (starah.stolley@killeenisd.org), or Coach Partlow at (crystal.partlow@killeenisd.org).