Every summer thousands of high school football players from across the country gather in Easton, Pa. to learn from some of the best college coaches in the nation. It’s all part of Lauren’s First and Goal Football Camp, an instructional clinic and largest one-day camp in the country in which over 325 coaches teach football fundamentals to 8th through12th graders.
Yet of all the talented teens who attend the camp, the toughest and strongest of the bunch is someone who isn’t wearing a helmet or pads. That would be 17-year-old Lauren Loose, the courageous teen girl who is the heart and soul of the camp.
“If all our players were as tough as Lauren, we’d probably never lose a game,” said Lauren’s father, John Loose, a defensive coordinator at Lafayette University
Since she was 9-months-old, Lauren has endured several health problems.
“She was born with a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 1,” said Lauren’s mother, Marianne Loose. “She has multiple brain tumors. She had a malignant sarcoma in her spine. She’s blind in one eye and visually impaired in the other. She’s had several strokes. She’s probably the strongest person I’ve ever known.”
Through all the hardships, Lauren has not only survived but has also served as a source of strength to the young athletes who attend her camp, sharing inspirational words with the players and cheering them on from the sidelines.
“She has her name on something big that hundreds of college coaches come to and support every year,” said Jayni Harris, a camp attendee and Senior at Martin Luther King High School. “That’s the motivational part for me and I think its motivation for a lot of other people here.”
The football camp and Lauren’s First and Goal charity have raised over $1.5 million in funds for pediatric brain tumor research and cancer services.
“I’ve never seen a camp like this,” said Jeff Monken, the head coach of Army Football. “There’s not any camp you go to in the country where you get in front of 300 coaches. I’m sure that a lot of coaches that come and meet Lauren get hooked and want to come back.”
As Lauren continues to beat the odds, she remains determined to make the most of the time that’s been given to her.
“A lot of times we think of what we can’t do instead of being thankful for the gifts God has given us,” Lauren said. “It makes me feel really happy and proud that they’re all here doing this, learning and discovering their gifts to help others.”
To learn more about Lauren’s First and Goal organization, including how you can donate, visit the official website.