Without Mothers, there would be no athletes in the world. Think about that for a second… Today is a celebration of motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. We see the praise of athletes and entertainers on a daily basis for being so skilled and talented, but when you go deeper into their stories, it all boils down to what Moms go through to help their child become successful in life.
In honor of Mother’s Day, S partnered with adidas Women to recognize all the perseverance and adversity of Moms worldwide.
Meet Gracie Lachowecki, graduate – Soccer player – Nursing major at the University of Miami, and her Mother Kay Lachowecki. Their relationship is exemplary of what today’s holiday is all about and a story worth celebrating. In doing so, adidas Women surprised Gracie with an opportunity to help show her Mom how much she is loved. What awaited was a once in a lifetime all expenses paid weekend getaway trip to Chicago packed with shopping sprees, tickets to Hamilton, Wanderlust, gifts, dinners at top restaurants in the city, all to be capped off by a special gift presented by Nice Kicks.
Additionally, adidas Women created the Marian Kay Lachowecki Scholarship Fund to honor her courage in the fight against Breast Cancer. Two students in the School of Nursing and Health Studies at the University of Miami who demonstrate finanacial need will each be awarded $5,000 to help cover the cost of their tuition.
Read ahead as I recap the weekend in photos and sit down with both Gracie & Kay Lachowecki to hear their incredible story of perseverance, adversity, and triumph.
RAY P.: It’s an absolute honor to sit here with you both. Whenever I hear your story of perseverance and facing adversity from people at adidas, they always cry. What happened this weekend has never been done by the brand, so I really just wanted to have a conversation with you, hear your story, and join in on the celebration.
Let’s start with you, Gracie. Talk to me about how a girl from Evansville, Indiana ended up at the University of Miami playing Soccer.
GRACIE: We were looking at Universities during my Sophomore year of High School and even though I had no intentions of going to Miami because it was so far from our home in Evansville, Indiana, I figured it would be a mini vacation at the very least [laughs]. I went down there knowing I wanted to major in Nursing and play Soccer, which at the time every school I met with told me it’s impossible and that too many hours were involved to participate in both programs. My meeting with the President of the University of Miami was different. The moment I told her what I wanted to do, she took me to go see the Dean of the Nursing program and immediately offered to build a program around me that would allow for both Soccer and Nursing to be pursued. There was no way I could pass up that offer.
Ray P: Sorry to cut you off, but I can’t blame you for taking the offer. It sounds like they really cared about you.
GRACIE: I will admit it was stressful, but I stuck through it. Learning how to deal with Nursing school, missing practice four times a week, but meeting with my coach for two hours a day to individually work on my game was a struggle. Now I feel like it was all worth it. I developed such a strong bond with my coaches and them taking the extra time definitely improved my skills.
RAY P: I’m inspired already. That’s some serious dedication and I’m so glad you stuck through it.
MOM: She also scored a crazy amount of goals that year! She’s too humble to admit, but I’m proud of her [laughs]!
RAY P.: Haha, I can already tell you’re her biggest cheerleader.
GRACIE: Yeah I think I had around 12 goals that season. I had two really big games, but the one that’s really cool and sticks out the most is the Breast Cancer Awareness game. We were down 0 – 2 at half time. I scored two straight goals in the second half to get us to overtime and 30seconds in I ended the game with my third goal.
MOM: You had a hat trick! It was soooo awesome.
RAY P: What did that game mean to you, Gracie? Because I saw you had a special smile while looking at your Mom and telling the story. There’s a past history with Breast Cancer and your Mother, correct?
GRACIE: I’ve played in the Breast Cancer Awareness game before, but never knew someone with the condition until Mom was diagnosed almost three years ago. We were down two goals and I just knew the day wouldn’t be special if we lost. After that third goal, I just remembered thinking, “oh my God, did that really just happen?” I felt like it was a turning point in my athletic career and all the practicing alone with coaches paid off. My favorite picture ever was taken at that game while my teammates were hugging me because we just came back to win and they knew the game was important as I was dealing with Moms breast cancer. Also, adidas gave us some amazing pink jerseys to wear.
RAY P: Mom, was that moment bigger than just a game for you?
MOM: It was Awesome! I’m really glad I was there. You can tell all of the girls were happy for Grace and I as well as the Coach whose Mother passed away from Cancer. It was a really emotional game for the whole team. It was a powerful moment. I saw Gracie with the biggest smile and it was just pure joy.
RAY P: Do you mind taking me through the process from diagnosis to when you beat Breast Cancer, Mom?
MOM: Thank goodness it was really short. When I first found out, I was shocked because you never think it would happen to you. Then I met with the Doctor and told him that it isn’t really a good time for me to have this because both my kids play Soccer and we have trips planned [laughs]! I was lucky I was able to do a partial radiation which is two weeks of intensive radiations twice a day as opposed to six weeks. So really I only missed one game.
GRACIE: What’s crazy is that one game she missed, coincidentally my Brother who plays at Notre Dame was playing at Virginia the same weekend as I and staying in the same hotel. It was perfect timing because we were there for each other and it happened right around the time of Mom’s diagnoses which neither of us were able to take time off of school to go back home. Having that support of my Brother really helped us lot. It was a perfect moment. We knew we’d be okay after that.
MOM: My Doctor said, “You seem like a lady who just wants to get over this, so you can continue living your life.” And he was right, that’s totally me. I think I was the cookiest Cancer patient they’ve ever had because I would reschedule appointments just so I wouldn’t miss Gracie nor her Brother’s games [laughs].
RAY P: Mom, you sound like the type of person who never let cancer define you or impede your life. You’re so strong and positive. I admire you a lot.
GRACIE: Yup that’s her. When she called me, I of course was balling my eyes out and she was calm and composed. It’s like it didn’t even phase her. She knew she would beat it, so it was just a matter of getting it over.
RAY P: What was the first thing you did to celebrate beating Cancer?
MOM: A group of friends took me out.
GRACIE: They took her to all of her favorite spots and all of her friends’ daughters played Soccer with me growing up so they even brought her to the Soccer field.
MOM: Yeah that was a major bonding moment and we even took a shot! [laughs].
RAY P: It seems like Soccer is more than just a game to your family. The sport is forever present throughout your lives. It’s literally a sanctuary for you all. Could any of you imagine life without Soccer?
GRACIE: No… I’m trying to figure it out now. I think I will try to get into Coaching. Honestly, part of the reason I wanted to play Soccer and do Nursing is because my Coach in High School was a nurse as well. I thought she was the coolest lady ever. I still speak to her all of the time. I definitely can’t imagine my life without it.
RAY P: Since Soccer has been part of the family’s lives since Dad was a pro player, has adidas always been the choice of footwear for the family?
GRACIE: Definitely. Growing up it was always adidas because that’s what Dad would put us in. When I committed to the University of Miami, they were still a Nike school. At that point, I was a bit worried because I’ve only played the sport with adidas on my feet. I remember people at our school were a bit upset when adidas sponsored the school, but the entire Soccer team was so pumped and excited. Since the switch it’s been way better, they actually care about the womens Soccer. We even have like six styles of jerseys!
MOM: When I was kid, adidas was the big thing. The classics came in either blue, green, or red. In my school, the white with the blue stripes, those were the most popular. One green was available and I convinced my Mom to buy me a pair even though they were a size and a half too big! I had to have them. Actually, I still haven’t found the blue pair.
RAY P: That’s so dope to hear. Maybe you’ll find that blue pair on this shopping spree. adidas gave each of you $1000 to spend at the store here in Chicago.
MOM: [laughs] Yes! Maybe today I’ll fulfilled my childhood dreams of getting that blue pair. adidas is definitely my first memory of feeling attached to a sportswear brand.
RAY P: I saw the video of you opening your surprise box from Adidas offering you a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend Mother’s Day with your Mom in Chicago. How did that feel to be recognized by brand you grew up with, do something out of the good of their hearts for the family? I’m sure Mom has spent a lot of money on adidas over the years, too.
MOM: [laughs] Yes, quite a bit.
GRACIE: It was so surreal adidas is helping me show my Mom how much she means to me.. I couldn’t believe what was happening. adidas new yeezys 2017 has never really done anything like this before. It was amazing.
RAY P: Mom, when’s the last time you’ve taken a vacation?
MOM: Maybe when Gracie was in 8th grade? It’s been a while. It’s nice to relax.
GRACIE: She’s planned so many Soccer trips, team meals, and everything. I’m moving to Louisville soon and the Miami Soccer team has an upcoming game there, my Mom is already planning their stay [laughs]. She deserves this so much.
RAY P: They really went all out. You got an all expense paid vacation to Chicago with your Mom, staying at SoHo House which is a really exclusive and prestigious hotel club, tickets to Hamilton (the hottest theater show in the country), a bonding moment at Wanderlust, and the opportunity to not only attend a Soccer match, but also meet and greet the players. Listing all of that made me quite jealous [laughs], but after hearing your story I can’t think of anyone who’s more deserving.
GRACIE: I’m still in disbelief. I’ve never flown first class before, so to go from that to having a driver, to this amazing hotel and our rooms were filled with new clothes and sneakers…
MOM: We felt extremely pampered. I was surprised.
RAY P: I see you both got a bunch of Boost sneakers! That comfort though…
MOM: I loved the ones I ran in this morning.
RAY P: The Ultra Boost? Yeah those are my favorite. I even got my Mom a pair for Mother’s Day, ha! Speaking of…
I have one last thing for you both… My language of love is sneakers. I think it’s the one thing in the world that makes any and everyone happy. Leaving this conversation without giving you both something wouldn’t feel right. So, Nice Kicks together with adidas presents an exclusive personalized pair of Ultra Boost X for two really wonderful women…