Minster senior has big game, bigger heart
By Jim Dabbelt 12/30/16
But what the Minster High School senior has done off the court has shown her true character. While her overall game and solid defense helps the Wildcats win basketball games, her generosity off the court has helped a lot of kids win at life.
Westerbeck recently completed a longtime project created knows as the Red Wagon Campaign, where she collected several wagons full of toys that she distributed to Dayton Children’s Medical Center, one of two trips she will make this winter to see the kids.
“I was in the hospital in first grade, and I remember the wonderful treatment and care that the Dayton Children’s Hospital provided for me,” Westerbeck said. “The doctors, nurses and staff all supported me physically and emotionally. They took care of my family as well. I can clearly remember the day that Child Life came around and passed out blankets. As a child, the hospital is a really scary thing, and receiving that blanket created an atmosphere of comfort and ‘home’ for me.”
Her time at Children’s as a youngster has stuck with Westerbeck, and she put all of her efforts into giving back to the kids who have to spend time at the facility. Her first trip was right before Christmas and she is ready to give more.
“I had this strong feeling that I needed to give back to the ones that saved my life, and continue to help kids everyday. So, I brainstormed some ideas and names for my project, and eventually came up with the Red Wagon Campaign™… I currently have the named reserved for official trademark,” Westerbeck said. “I launched my first campaign in 2013, successfully filling 4 wagons overflowing with toys and activities for the patients.”
“Now a senior, I was challenged to do the campaign again, and this time 13 wagons were generously donated by members of my community. I was able to fill an entire trailer full of wagons and toys for the kids and I am making another trip this month, hopefully filling another trailer full.”
While her successful gesture has grown since it begun, she can remember how tough it was to start any idea.
“The beginning part of the project is always the toughest, getting the first few wagons donated,” she said. “Once people see that other members of the community are getting involved, everyone jumps on board. Many donors quickly approached me to purchase wagons.”
“Now comes the easy part, I simply display the wagons at a few locations around town, and let people place their donation in the wagons. Minster is such a gracious and loving community. This area was the perfect location to do this project through the help of the Youth Leadership Association (YLA) and the entire Minster community.”
“I can’t quite find the right words to express the feeling you get when you give a sick child a gift for Christmas. It’s something so special that can only be explained by experiencing the giving first hand.”
Westerbeck’s giving back goes way beyond this single endeavor. In fact, one has to wonder how she finds the time to help out everyone she does.
“Well, the simple answer is, if something matters to you, you’ll make time for it,” the Wildcats star said. “I care very much about my community and giving back to the ones that make living in this area so wonderful. So in order to balancing volunteering, basketball, and school, I have learned to value time management a lot.”
“To make sure I have time to volunteer, I make sure I get my school work done a head of the due dates. Getting my work done ahead of time gives me the opportunity to spend my Saturday afternoons playing BINGO at the local assisted living center. In the midst of school and volunteering, I find myself in the gym playing basketball. Whether it is a scheduled practice, or just shooting around on my own time, I always make sure to find time to get in the gym.”
“Above all else, I make time for church activities. My faith is something that I am grounded in. My entire being stems from my love of Christ. and I thank Him for giving me the opportunity to play basketball, and give back to the community through volunteering.”
Her basketball Wildcats are off to a great start to the season, undefeated at the New Years break. She knows that there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle to make this team so successful.
“The program doesn’t just consist of the freshman-senior players, we have the junior high and elementary school players, the fans and other students, who are all members of this unit,” she said. “The key to our success is realizing and valuing others skills and abilities. Every single person on the team has a vital role in helping us achieve our goals. Their support helps drive us to our goals.”
Westerbeck is no stranger to success and honors. In 2014, she was crowned as the Ohio Miss Outstanding Teen, and it opened a lot of doors for the area student athlete.
“It was absolutely the best year of my life,” Westerbeck said, who had the chance to travel the entire state of Ohio and many other eastern states.
“I also had the opportunity to travel to Mansfield England (UK). As I traveled, I met tons of people with riveting and insightful stories and backgrounds. I love to learn about new places and things, so having the opportunity to meet so many different people and see different things has really brought me full circle.”
Westerbeck advocated for and promoted scholastic achievement, creative accomplishment, healthy living and community involvement for America’s teens.
“I am forever grateful for the many experiences I got during my reign, and will continue to empower young woman to get involved in the system. This program is incredibly rewarding, and embodies the development of young women into becoming powerful women.”
Westerbeck has shown everything one thing. Basketball is something that will last for a short time in her life. Her huge heart and compassion for people will help carry her through her entire life.