Horace Fisher,Gleaner Writer
Perennial netball powerhouse, Jamalco, will go down in netball history for sweeping the finals of the 2013 Juici Patties' Clarendon's Senior Netball Championship at the league's new headquarters at Clarendon Park in the parish recently.
However, on that day, the biggest winner was ailing veteran netballer Gretel Gray, who walked away with a generous financial donation from Juici Patties and the Clarendon Netball League to assist in offsetting her medical expenses.
Gray, 54, who has lost her sight in both eyes after two major surgeries to remove reoccurring tumours that were growing rapidly in her head, began playing the game while still a student at Central High School in May Pen. She joined the parish's top netball team, the May Pen Youth and Community Club, which she represented for more than 20 years as a utility player, later serving the local parish league as an administrator.
"I love netball!" Gray told Rural Xpress at the recent netball finals at the Juici Patties court in Clarendon. "I wasn't expecting anything from Juici Patties or the Clarendon Netball League. It was all a surprise, and a wonderful one, too!" she added laughing, after collecting the donation from Juici Patties' marketing manager Jacqueline Scott-Perry and league director Winston Nevers.
Gray told Rural Xpress that after a period of prolonged acute headaches, she went to the doctor where the first devastating discovery was made. She successfully underwent her first surgery in 2005. Unfortunately, she experienced another tragedy shortly afterwards when her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. A year later, Gray went blind.
But that wasn't the end of her peril. The tumour returned and was again removed in yet another major surgery. The tumour has recurred and Gray will now need to have it removed in a hurry.
"It has been a rough, arduous road financially and otherwise, especially since there is my mother, also. But I am just giving God thanks and taking things one day at a time," she said.
Winston Nevers, league director, told Rural Xpress that Gray had given her life to netball before she became ill, and now that she is ailing, every effort would be made to assist her as best as possible with her medical expenses.
"It's a privilege for us to assist her with her medical expenses because we know it isn't easy, and she was quite appreciative of the surprise gesture Juici Patties and the netball league made to her," he said.