The competition was fierce at the Teachers vs. Teachers basketball benefit on Tuesday, but the players were there for a good cause.
All proceeds from the benefit, which was organized by local nonprofit Sarah Lynn’s Legacy, will go to the family of Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel McCartney, who was shot and killed responding to a home robbery invasion in Frederickson in January.
Sandy Iversen knows what the loss of a family member feels like. In March 2014, her daughter, Emerald Ridge High School math teacher Sarah Lynn Cypher, was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer. Seven months later, she died at age 37.
“It went pretty quick,” Iversen said.
A 1995 Rogers High School graduate, Cypher left behind a husband and two children — Kennedy, 13, and Xander, 10.
Shortly after, Iversen and her husband, Ken, started a nonprofit, Sarah Lynn’s Legacy. Every year, the nonprofit throws a 5K/10K walk and run in Cypher’s honor. But this year, Iversen wanted to do more.
“Because of the way that (Cypher) was, we wanted to do something for the community,” Iversen said. “We decided we wanted ... to raise money for a family that was hurting, like we were.”
So they rallied together high school and junior high teachers from across the Puyallup School District to play against one another in a basketball game Tuesday. The Emerald Ridge High School drumline was there, along with the color guard and cheerleaders.
The atmosphere was one of excitement and support, Emerald Ridge senior Karlee Stueckle said.
“The people that are here have really close connections (with Cypher),” she said, adding everyone wanted to extend that support to the McCartney family. “It’s important that we’re all connected.”
“We’re here to support two great causes — here to celebrate life of Sarah Lynn and then for the McCartney family,” Emerald Ridge teacher Bob Frey said. Frey participated in the basketball game.
“This is a great event, a way to rally our whole school district — teachers, administrators, students — to support a great cause, showcase our drumlines and our bands and our color guards and all sort of good fun things our district is all about,” Frey added.
Officers from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department also attended to show their support, including Sgt. Frank Clark, who worked alongside McCartney in Mountain Detachment.
“I’m thrilled that the public’s putting this on and wants to do this,” Clark said. “Dan was an extremely proactive, highly-motivated deputy... I think he’d really enjoy this tonight.”
With recent officer-involved shootings, Clark added that it’s great to see the community rally together.
“The general public, they’re very supportive… but you’ve got a small portion of the public who doesn’t want to obey the law… and that can get frightening,” he said.
By the end of the game, the junior high teachers won 55 to 53, but the true win was the $3,300 raised by the community for the McCartney family.
The community’s outreach is pretty impactful, said Josh Cypher, Sarah’s husband.
“It’s always hard, an unexpected loss. Events like this are a great testament to what this community is about and how we always pull together. Doesn’t matter who it is, whether we know each other or not,” he said.
Josh Cypher hasn’t met the McCartney family, but said his thoughts and prayers are with them.
“A big loss is never easy to deal with,” he said. “It just takes time.”