The Norman Transcript

Local news

September 27, 2009

Like a champion

NORMAN — When Santiago Restrepo thinks of his son, there is not one particular memory that comes to the forefront. In the four years Javi Restrepo spent with his family, he provided his father with countless memories that will stay with him forever.

However, when Restrepo, who is the volleyball coach at Oklahoma, thinks about the days the entire family spent on the beach in Florida, he can't help but get emotional.

"He was definitely having a great time," Restrepo said with tears in his eyes. "That was one of his wishes that he wanted to go to the beach. And thanks to Bob Stoops for letting us use his plane, and letting us use his condo. We left in the morning, got there at around 2 p.m. and spent the afternoon at the beach. And the next morning we were at the beach and we left that afternoon. That was very special. It was a great moment for us."

Their trip to Florida was one of the final times the Restrepo family spent together. July 31, 4-year-old Javi Restrepo lost his three-year fight with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and died.

But, while his son may be gone, coach Restrepo said the memory of Javi and his battle with the deadly disease is not gone. That is why Wednesday, when the Sooner volleyball team hosts Nebraska, the match will be part of Leukemia Awareness Night.

Even though Restrepo knows the night will be emotional for him, he and his team wanted to do it.

"It's going to be extremely tough," Restrepo said. "There isn't a day that goes by without me thinking about him, with my wife (Heidi). It will be overwhelming, I think."

Those in attendance can participate in the Pledge for a Cure fundraiser by making a donation for each Oklahoma kill, ace, dig or block recorded during the match. The donations will be given to the Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at the Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center.

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