GROTON, S.D. - The halls of Groton Area Junior High were a bit quieter Monday. Ava Tunheim lost her battle to leukemia over the weekend. KELOLAND News talked to her teammates about the mark she left at school and on their hearts.
Eighth graders on the girl's basketball team remember Ava not only for her talent in the game, but also her ability to bring a smile to everyone's face.
"She loved scary movies, but I don't like them so I make fun of them. She just keeps smiling at me and yelling at me to stop making fun of this movie. That's what I miss most about her, she just always knew what to say and she always made you happy," teammate Jacelynne Gleason said.
The students showed their support Monday by wearing a particular color.
"We're wearing orange and our Ava shirts. The orange represents the leukemia sign. It's orange and it's orange ribbon," teammate Ashtyn Bahr said.
Rivals of Groton showed their support as well.
"So tonight, the boys' basketball team we're playing at Roncalli. Roncalli has always been a rival of Groton. Tonight the Roncalli team stepped up and they are donating all of the proceeds from the ticket box to Ava's family. They're encouraging everyone to leave their passes at home and purchase a ticket in order to get as much money as they can so we appreciate them stepping up and doing that," assistant basketball coach Becky Erickson said.
If you missed the game on Monday, there is one Tuesday in remembrance of her as well.
"Tomorrow night the girls' basketball team plays Webster at home. So were going to take a moment of silence to honor Ava and our five 8th graders who are on our basketball team and our five starters will each have a rose and a balloon and there will be an empty chair set out in honor of Ava as well with a T-shirt so each of those 10 girls will get to place a rose and a balloon on the chair for her, in memory of her," Erickson said.
If you wish to contribute the you can click the link to the GoFundMe for Ava's family.