4th Annual Hope Classic a special night for Lower Merion community

Lower MerionThe Lower Merion-Conestoga boys’ basketball contest Feb. 2 at the Bryant Gymnasium also featured the 4th Annual Hope Classic benefiting Angelman’s Syndrome, a cause that hits close to home for the Aces.

Hope, daughter of Lower Merion assistant coach Kevin Grugan who was born with Angelman’s Syndrome, has not let that stop her from doing her best to live a full life.

Angelman’s Syndrome is a rare neurogenetic disorder that affects approximately one in 15,000 people – about 500,000 individuals worldwide. Symptoms typically include difficulty suckling and eating, gastrointestinal issues, delayed crawling and babbling, balance and motor impairment, and seizures.

“Our family has received tremendous support from the Lower Merion community, the faculty and especially the students,” said Grugan, following Lower Merion’s 65-61 loss Feb. 2 against Conestoga. “The student council did a great job decorating the gymnasium along with collecting monies during the game.

“We have been fortunate to have great opponents for this game (Haddonfield, Haverford and Harriton) and Conestoga was another example of this tonight.”

Lower Merion junior Matt O’Connor said, “It was certainly a special night. Coach Grugan does so much for us and for us to be able to do something for his family means so much. The way they deal with everything is amazing and we love having an opportunity to show our support.”

Upon entering the hallway leading to Bryant Gymnasium, a large hand painted banner marking the evening hung on the wall. Those entering the gym were greeted with streamers featuring Hope’s favorite colors hung with balloons strung throughout.

With basketball season continuing throughout the winter months and Grugan spending time away from his family, anytime his children – Erin, Jack and Hope – can attend practice or go on team trips it shows the extended family atmosphere Lower Merion promotes.

“It’s a lot of fun when we get to spend time with the Grugan family,” O’Connor said. “Erin and Hope have a chance to attend practice and this summer we had a chance to hang out with Jack and it was awesome.”

“We have a tremendous team,” said Grugan. “They are a fantastic representation of their parents and were raised correctly. Kate and I are fortunate as parents to have three great children. The Hope Classic is a really special night for all of us.”


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