Emily Waller's Opening Devotion

Prior to the start of the final session on Tuesday, April 7 of the YMCA National Championships, DCST swimmer and coach, Emily Waller, gave the opening devotion.  Listed below is a copy of her devotion.


            My last Winter Nationals is somewhat bitter sweet. Four months ago, 13-time YMCA All-American, and 4-time Illinois High School All-State Team member and my sister, Grace, was diagnosed with bone cancer in her right lower femur and knee. 
          These last 4 months have been surreal for Grace and for our family. Treatment for bone cancer begins with 10 weeks of chemotherapy, then surgery to remove the tumor, and then a lot more chemo. All of her treatments require her to stay in the hospital for 3-5 days each time. Since the hospital is an hour and a half from our home, our lives have all changed a bit.
          Living just 1 mile from my YMCA in DeKalb, Illinois, I have to say that I have taken its existence for granted. Our team has always been friendly and close. However, it was not until this challenge that I realized the depth and meaning of the “Familyý in its name, “Kishwaukee Family YMCA.ý Shortly after Grace was diagnosed, my coach, Brian Bickner and his wife Amy donated 2,000 light blue Amazing Grace bracelets in order to raise money for the Cure for Grace Fund and Bone Cancer Research. So many families brought meals over and continue to just show up unannounced with lunch or dinner. Dozens of encouraging cards arrive each week. In late February, Grace was in between chemo treatments and was excited she could cheer on our Swim Team at the District Meet. When she arrived at the pool, she was greeted by our entire team wearing light blue Amazing Grace T-Shirts and swim Caps. Even the parents showed their support by putting away the usual Red and Black team shirts and sporting light blue.
          The support this team has shown Grace and our family has been incredible. She is very encouraged and feels very much apart of this YMCA family. Three weeks ago, Grace had the cancerous tumor removed along with her knee and 6 inches of her femur. Her doctors reconstructed a new knee and femur. She calls it her new bionic leg. She is quick to show off her 13-inch scar and is counting down the days until she can try it out in the water. She still has a long road ahead of her and won’t be finished with chemo until late summer or early fall; however, the cancer has not changed Grace. She still has goals. Grace learned how to set goals and how to attain them from years of swimming and preparing for this National Meet. She learned perseverance from our coaches and her teammates at our YMCA. She learned how to never give up or let any challenge get the best of her. 
My family is humbled by the love, concern and character shown by our YMCA family. 
          Please join me in prayer.
          Dear Heavenly Father,
          Thank you for the opportunity to swim here this week. Please help all of us swim to the best of our abilities. Thank you for all of the support that my family has felt from the YMCA family, and especially I thank you for seeing Grace through this difficult and challenging time in her life. We know that we can call her our Amazing Grace only because of Your amazing grace.