ST. LOUIS – Volleyball players, coaches, and event organizers honored 17-year-old amputee Janae Edmondson with special tributes at a tournament downtown—the first return since tragedy struck.
Young volleyball athletes from across the Midwest are in town for a volleyball tournament. A chilling reminder of the tragedy that occurred just one month ago.
In February, Edmondson, who played for the Mid-Tennessee volleyball club, lost both her legs in a tragic car crash while walking downtown with her parents, who were in town for a tournament during President’s Day.
For the next two weekends, downtown St. Louis will be packed with players competing at the Nike MidEast Qualifier at the Dome at America’s Center.
“It’s exciting! When the energies are up, it’s a lot of fun,” said Kennedy Haucke, a player for the NKVC team.
Edmondson is now in rehab, and online donations have exceeded $800,000 to assist with expenses. The organizers of the tournament hope that the money raised during the competition will add to that total.
“It’s in the back of your mind, it’s obviously a huge tragedy, you want to hug your own kids a little bit tighter,” said Scott McQueen, tournament director for Capitol Sports Center. “Volleyball is a really neat sport and a neat community, and everybody does want to band together and show her support.”
During the games, t-shirts reading “playing and praying for #3” can be seen proudly displaying the support of the Indiana team, all of whom are still reeling from the heartbreak.
“It’s important to show support for other volleyball people, and what happened to her is really sad,” said Kaley Skurka, a player for the Epic United team. “We feel really bad, so we just want to show our support for her.”
Out of concern for public safety, the city has closed off Washington Avenue, making it a pedestrian-only zone this weekend and next while major events such as the tournament are taking place.
The downtown community improvement district issued a permit that allows them to work with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Explore St. Louis, and the fire department to make sure what happened to Edmondson does not happen again.
“It definitely brought us more together,” said Skylar, an NKVC player.
“We’re a strong community; we can get through it,” Haucke said.
The tournament will run from March 24-26 and March 31-April 2.