Pine View football players surprise beloved classmate with bucket-list trip to Australia

Pine View High football players and coach Ray Hosner surround Liberty Griggs after schoolwide assembly, St. George, Utah, May 9, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Liberty Griggs, a 16-year-old junior at Pine View High School, thought her parents were coming to school with her Wednesday for a routine meeting with a counselor.

Brooks Maile wheels in fellow student Liberty Griggs at Pine View High School, St. George, Utah, May 9, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Little did Liberty know that the entire student body was assembled in the school’s gymnasium watching a short video about her and waiting for her arrival.

As Liberty’s wheelchair was guided into the gym by football player and newly elected student body president Brooks Maile, Liberty reacted with emotion as the audience burst into loud applause.

Turning to Liberty, Maile thanked her for her kindness and positive spirit. “You just make everyone light up when they meet you,” he said.

Then came the kicker. “We’re going to send you to Australia!” Maile exclaimed, adding that the Panther football players have been raising money to make it happen.

“Are you serious?” Liberty said, visibly struggling to fight back tears. “Thank you so much!”

Several years ago, at age 10, Liberty was diagnosed with a debilitating disease called Friedreich’s ataxia, which damages the nervous system, affecting motor abilities and various organs without impairing cognitive function. The disease is progressive and most people who have it die within a decade or so of its onset. A little over a year ago, Liberty and her older sister Gaby made a video during which she explains her situation and outlines a bucket list of things she hopes to see and do before she dies. Although she has already been able to check off some of the listed items, there are others she hasn’t done yet, including visiting Australia. She said her reasons for wanting to go there include visiting beaches and seeing kangaroos and other wildlife unique to the area.

Earlier this year, Liberty posted a “Part 2” video, during which she outlined her goal to pedal her customized green tricycle a total of 1,000 miles during the 2017 calendar year. With the help and support of her family and friends, she was able to accomplish that goal.

Click play to view either or both videos – article continues below.

Pine View head football coach Ray Hosner said his players have been conducting football camps and other fundraising activities throughout the school year with the goal of raising enough money for Liberty and her parents to travel Down Under for 10 days or so. Hosner said the Zion Lions football team also contributed to the cause. Donations are still being accepted, he said, adding that contributions can be given to the PVHS football team or to the school’s main office.

“I’m so happy we were able to do this for Liberty,” Hosner said. “I’m proud of the kids and that they were willing to put forth the effort.”

Hosner said he and his players are especially impressed with Liberty’s attitude and dedication. “In spite of all the challenges she’s had to go through, she doesn’t ever complain,” he said. “She just says, ‘It’s no big deal, I’m just going to make the best of it.’ She’s just the sweetest, most positive person.”

Following Wednesday’s short assembly, dozens of students crowded around Liberty and took turns giving her hugs and wishing her well. 

Her parents, Brian and Jenny Griggs, said that Liberty is still recovering from recent surgery, so they are planning to make the trip sometime early this fall, near the beginning of her senior year. They expressed their appreciation for the generosity of the Pine View students and the surrounding community.

“We are so grateful for this act of kindness shown by the PVHS football team and coach Hosner,” Jenny Griggs said, adding, “In spite of the challenges and anxiety that come with this illness, we feel so blessed and remain hopeful that a cure for FA will be found.”

Liberty also expressed her gratitude, telling St. George News, “There are some things the world believes I can’t do. I’m here to show that I can, if I work hard enough and believe that I can do it.”

“There are some amazing people in this world that do awesome things for me because they believe that limitations are just the world challenging you to work harder,” Liberty added.

For more information, see Liberty’s Facebook page, called Give Me Liberty to Make a Difference.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: jrichards@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  • nikgene May 11, 2018 at 8:00 am

    Coach Hosner & the Pine View Football Team are AMAZING! Proud to say that we were part of the Panther Family! Good Job Boys!

  • Brian May 11, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Great job guys! I hope Liberty and her family have an awesome trip. Faith in humanity restored…

  • Mean Momma May 11, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    I would expect nothing less from the great kids at PVHS! Proud to say that I am an alumnus of PVHS! Have so much fun Liberty and family!

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