In 2005, the Philadelphia Friends of V honored Josh Wilker. Josh, the son of Rose and Joe Wilker, was diagnosed with cancer as an 8th grader at Grey Nun academy, where his father Joe still teaches. With plans to attend LaSalle high school, Josh never made it there to wear his lucky #11 jersey that he had worn for so many years playing CYO football and basketball. Josh had an aggressive form of leukemia and died in March of 2003.
From a deeply religious family, Josh prayed the rosary for a neighbor who was the mother to three of his dear friends and who was diagnosed with cancer and continues to live a healthy life. During his illness this neighbor gave Josh the rosary rings she wore when she was diagnosed hoping it would help him heal.
Less than a year after his death, at the second annual tournament, Josh’s dad made an impassioned, emotional speech during half time of the final game of his remembrance of his special son and how he felt his presence during the event. The Wilker family donated ‘Josh Rings’ for all players that night. His brother Austin and sister Erin were with their parents that night honoring Josh’s memory.
After the moving evening, organizers knew they had something special in this tournament and vowed to make each event better and better. With just four teams and one raffle the event brought in $2,500. The Wilker family attends every year and continues to feel Josh’s presence – so much so that local author, Marie Duess, has written about it called Joshua’s Ring
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