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Seattle Storm teammates, fans raise nearly $50,000 for former player battling cancer

Simone Edwards helped the Seattle Storm reach their first-ever championship in 2004. Now her teammates are helping her face a whole new challenge.

SEATTLE — The members of the Seattle Storm's first-ever championship team reunited Thursday, but a key member was missing.

Betty Lennox's personality lit up the room, and Sue Bird's megawatt smile helped illuminate the other corners. In between, one could see the hugs that old friends share.

It was a reunion of sorts for the 2004 WNBA Champion Seattle Storm on a Capitol Hill rooftop. But they weren't necessarily here to walk down memory lane.

"Special team, special bond, it was a long time before Seattle won that championship," said Lennox, who was the MVP of the 2004 finals when Seattle won its first title. "It feels like a reunion, except everyone is not here."

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Lennox was referring to her championship teammate and friend Simone Edwards, who fans and friends affectionately called the "Jamaican Hurricane."

In May, the original member of the Storm was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer.

"It was this constant pain," recalled Edwards. "Like a sciatica pain, I feel this sharp pain."

A doctor's visit confirmed the worst and the need for chemotherapy and radiation. 

"If I had waited longer, it would have spread," said Edwards.

"When she told me she had ovarian cancer, it was a no-brainer. I had to do something to help her out," said Jill Gallagher, who has known Edwards for close to 20 years. "All she's ever done is give to other people."

Gallagher started a GoFundMe, and then made a few phone calls. Within weeks, she organized a small fundraiser on Capitol Hill with several members of that squad coming from different parts of the country to be in attendance. Hall of Famer Lauren Jackson appeared remotely, as did Edwards. So far, the effort has garnered nearly $50,000.

The players shared stories, smiles, and drinks. The bond from that magical year was clear to anyone there.

"To see her talk now tells you she's a warrior, the same warrior that was on that basketball court, to win that championship," said Lennox. "The same way we came together to win that championship is the same way we're coming together to beat that thing called cancer."