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100-year-old Hillview resident receives birthday surprise of a lifetime

La Crosse, Wisc. (WXOW)- The Aquinas girls basketball team received plenty of praise and recognition after winning their second consecutive state championship. But, one letter they received in the mail stood out among the rest.

The letter began by saying, “Hello, I am Mary Zabolio McGrath (1965). My mother, Dolores Albel Zabolio went to Aquinas. She was born April 15th, 1918 and played girls basketball at Aquinas.”

Dolores graduated from Aquinas 83 years a go and was a member of the Girls Athletic Assocation, better known as the G.A.A.

“I can’t even remember what I played,” Dolores laughs.

However, one memory does stand out to Dolores. She writes about it in the letter.

“We had my dad take a car full of us to Marshfield,” Dolores writes. “I did not drive in those days. We played basketball with the team there that day. It was quite an event. I loved going to

Aquinas, even wearing the uniforms . Congratulations on your championship win. ”

After reading the letter, the Aquinas girls basketball team wanted Delores to also feel like a champion. The Blugolds decided to visit her at the Hillview Nursing home.

When Delores found out they were coming, she was surprised, but also “thrilled.”

“I’m like we have to do something for her,” Aquinas Head Coach Dave Donarski said. “Then it just continued to evolve into we’re going to get her shirts, we’re going to celebrate her 101st birthday, and just be as welcoming as we can be because her willingness to reach out. ”

When Aquinas arrived at Hillview, they walked into a room full of residents, with Delores placed at the center.

“Well, hello girls,” Delores said.

The Blugolds then presented Delores with the gold ball.

“Oh isn’t that something,” Delores said while admiring the award.

The Blugolds went through Delores’ year book and old pictures reminiscing on her glory days. Together, they then rehearsed a timeless tradition in the Aquinas fight song.

“Fight, fight, fight for the gold and blue,” Delores chimed in.

Delores doesn’t take traditions for granted especially the ones that celebrate her age. Mary, her daughter, added in the letter that, “She (Delores) will be 101 on April 15th.”

The Blugolds decided to make 101 a birthday to remember by singing to her.

“Happy birthday dear Delores, happy birthday to you.”

“Thank you, thank you,” Delores said with a smile.

Before saying goodbye, she had one last request of the girls.

“Well, come again.”


Karley Marotta

Weekend Sports Anchor

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