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Jenni Carlson: Little Javi Restrepo is still bringing out the best in people

by Jenni Carlson Published: August 13, 2009
/articleid/3392407/1/pictures/645472">Photo - Javi Restrepo poses with one of the OU mascots during the multi-sport morning the OU athletic department organized for him. (Photo provided)
Javi Restrepo poses with one of the OU mascots during the multi-sport morning the OU athletic department organized for him. (Photo provided)
They would have to drive back to Delaware for check-ups every couple months, too.

Bob Stoops heard about the Restrepos’ two-day drives. Like everyone in the athletic department, the Sooner football coach knew about Javi’s cancer. He paid for a private jet to take the Restrepos to Delaware, then bring them back to Oklahoma.

As spring wore into summer, Javi continued to improve. He felt good enough to spend some time with his dad in the Sooner volleyball offices.

But not long after during check-up, doctors checked Javi’s bone marrow and returned with a devastating diagnosis. The leukemia had returned again, and half of the marrow was affected. The situation left doctors with no more options.

Nothing could be done.

That didn’t stop folks from trying.

The OU athletic department organized a multi-sport morning for Javi. He played football on Owen Field and baseball at Mitchell Park and basketball at Lloyd Noble Center and soccer on John Crain Field. He was joined by Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy, Garrett Buechele, Whitney Hand, Ryan Wright and several other Sooners.

OU women’s basketball coach Sherri Coale arranged for a portrait photographer to spend time with the family.

Stoops again offered a private jet, this time to take the Restrepos to Florida for a day at the beach.

And when Javi died on the last day of July, surrounded by people who loved him, people who loved the Restrepos rallied around them. Athletic director Joe Castiglione flew family members to Norman for the funeral. The OU volleyball team designed a patch to wear in Javi’s memory. Big 12 volleyball officials did the same.

Who knows where it will stop?

Saturday morning in Shawnee, a run/walk is planned to raise money for the family. "Steppin’ for Restrepo” is the brainchild of former Sooner player and current Oklahoma Baptist coach Anna Monsen, who has appealed to coaches and players, parents and supporters across the state.

"It has been remarkable,” said assistant athletic director Nicki Moore of all of the helping hands.

"Neat things around every corner.”

No one has sought attention for what they did, the care and love they showered on the family, the support and concern they showed over these past few years. They saw someone in need and wanted to help.

There is no doubt that the sports world has its bad apples, but any time you wonder whether the whole barrel has been tarnished, remember the story of Javier Restrepo.

It is a story of hope.

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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Steppin’ for Restrepo
→What: Run/walk to raise funds in memory of Javier Restrepo, the 4-year-old son of Oklahoma volleyball coach Santiago Restrepo who died after battling leukemia for almost three years

→When: 10 a.m. Saturday

→Where: Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee

→Cost: $15

→More information:


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