Haley a true inspiration

Published 11:05 am Thursday, November 20, 2008

By Staff
Commentary by KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
When Haley Hiatt walked into the Washington High School gymnasium, my heart skipped a beat.
I had never spoken with Haley and didn’t know exactly what to expect. I was meeting her for the first time, and was there to do a story about her battle with cancer.
After I asked the first question, there was an awkward silence for a minute. It seemed much longer.
Maybe she was nervous. Maybe I was nervous.
I asked her a second question, and she answered immediately. Once we got past that first question, it was off to the races.
I was full of questions, some of which I wasn’t sure I should ask. But Haley was honest. Brutally honest.
The more questions for her, the better. Maybe it was therapeutic for her. Maybe it was therapeutic for me.
I was intrigued by her battle with Hodgkin’s disease. How she got it. When she got it. How she got rid of it.
It wasn’t an easy story for me to do. My father died of cancer and it ripped my heart out.
Talking about cancer isn’t exactly something I wanted to do.
But Haley made everything easy. This girl, all of 15 and without much hair, put me… ME… at ease.
Within minutes she and I were laughing. She had silly jokes and I laughed. I had silly jokes and she laughed.
It was the first time I met Haley, but it seemed like we had known each other for years.
Haley has that kind of endearing personality. You’re drawn to her by her smile. By her laugh. By her humor. By her story.
It’s a great story. A story of perseverance. A story of battling, and beating, cancer.
Haley is a high school student. She is a volleyball player, and a darned good one. She is a basketball player. She is a track athlete. She is a teenager.
But Haley is so much more. So, so much more.
Haley is an inspiration.
Haley has an incredible view on life. Her bout with cancer brought her closer to her family, closer to her friends and closer to God.
Through her ordeals, which included treatments of chemotherapy through a port that is still in her chest, Haley has held her head high and faced each challenge with a brave face.
She said she wants to be a role model for kids.
This girl, this amazing, beautiful, talented, caring and funny girl, is a role model for kids. But she’s also a role model for adults.
That hour I spent with Haley, talking about her cancer, laughing over silly jokes, taking photo after photo around the school, will be one that I will remember for a long time.
When Haley walked out of the Washington High School gymnasium, she took a piece of my heart with her.
Kevin Travis is the sports editor of the Washington Daily News. You may reach him at 940-4217, or by e-mail at Kevin@wdnweb.com.