‘He had such a big heart and he cared about everyone, he just always cared.’ – Athlete remembers beloved volunteer who lost his life in major accident Wednesday night

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Down the hall beside the gym in Normal West Community High School is a small plaque in honor of the Charlie Crabtree award. Charlie, is the man who lost his life in the accident involving the JV Girls Basketball team Wednesday night.

As the school gathered to mourn the loss of their beloved volunteer, one student we spoke to, a recipient of the award baring his name, knows she will remember him forever.

Those who knew Charlie Crabtree will tell you he walked into the gym with excitement and support.

“Everyday for practice he would come in and scream ‘Hi Wildcat’s’ no matter if he was 20 minutes late to practice or 20 minutes early, he just brought such a positive energy.” said Dani Freeman, a former basketball player and alumnus of Normal west.

She also said he was more than your average volunteer.

“He was someone that I always looked up to, just being passionate about everything he did, he had such a big heart and he cared about everyone no matter who it was, he just always cared.”

Described by Freeman as a grandfather figure. He supported the girl’s basketball team just by keeping score, but by warming their hearts.

“It’s gunna be hard not to have him around because he was around for everything whether it was a game in Danville or a game home, he was at everything and not having him around is going to be really hard.”

Freeman was the first recipient of the Charlie Crabtree award, given to a basketball player who exhibits Charlie’s love of the game, sportsmanship, and selflessness.

Freeman said in light of his death, she hopes to live her life in his honor.

“It’s gunna be hard to live up to and I know Maggie who won it the next year after I did would say the same thing, the plaque means something special and it’s gunna be hard to live up to his name now.”



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