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5K supports South LAX in memory of coach’s daughter
22-year-old died in 2012 from heart complication
Helmet with NG sticker for Nicole Garrish

Go with the Flow 5K
* What: Walk/run to support South Forsyth High’s lacrosse team and the Nicole Garrish Scholarship Fund
* When: 8:30 a.m. March 14
* Where: South Forsyth High School
* Cost: $25 in advance, $30 day of; participants receive race shirt
* For more information go to southforsythlacrosse.com

SOUTH FORSYTH -- A blue sticker with the letters “NG” in white are plastered to helmets on the South Forsyth High boys’ lacrosse team. Even those of the freshmen and sophomores who aren’t on varsity and weren’t there when it happened.

There are four seniors who were on the team in 2012. It was Coach John Garrish’s first year in Forsyth County after having moved from Boca Raton, Fla.

His daughter, Nicole Garrish, had high blood pressure, but no one thought it was so serious in a 22-year-old as to cause a fatal heart complication. She passed away when an aneurism burst while she was in a retail store in Manhattan.

“Right away, we took a piece of tape and wrote ‘NG’ on our helmets, and now we have the stickers,” said Cooper Lyon, one of the four seniors and last year’s captain. “We tell freshmen so they’re informed.

“It’s a big deal to everyone that they know it happened. It’s a big deal to us to support him because that’s all we can do.”

But that’s not really all they can do, as they’ve proved.

Some parents, especially Lyon’s, Amber and Tim, are organizing the Go with the Flow 5K. It will start and end at the school while branching onto Ronald Reagan Parkway.

Proceeds from the event, in which Lyon said most of his teammates are participating, will benefit the lacrosse team and the Nicole Garrish Scholarship Fund.

John Garrish and his wife, Anna, who is a receptionist at Piney Grove Middle School, set up the foundation shortly after Nicole passed away. There are two, actually.

One in Florida was created after Nicole’s sorority sisters — she graduated from Florida State University — started a fundraiser for the family, so they “really had no choice.”

The one in Forsyth County was created to honor Nicole.

“It’s important for us to give back because she did that,” Garrish said. “She was a runner. She loved to do all of these charity events. We felt like that’s what we needed to do to honor the short life she had.”

The foundation provides scholarships for students to go to college.

“As a junior, she worked in [New York] City, and they offered her a job right out of college. So she really went right there,” Garrish said.
“She got an apartment. She was living with nothing when she started. She had just gotten her second promotion.”

Garrish explained that the funding is a pay-it-forward scholarship.

“When a student applies, they have to explain where they want to send $100 to a charity of their choice for a $500 scholarship,” he said. “They have to say where it’s going and why. American Heart Association is a big one.”

Garrish has seen people come “out of the woodwork to just make life as easy as they could for me.”

“You don’t forget that kind of thing,” he said. “It takes your breath away a little bit. We were happy here before. But then when you have this kind of thing happen … and people help … You feel at home pretty quickly.”

The cycle of support has not been lost on team captain Lyon or his 65-teammate lacrosse family.

“It was important to the team then,” Lyon said. “It was his first year, and he was an assistant for offense. He came back. He’s really supportive for everyone else, even though he’s probably the one who needs it most. He always listens and backs up our ideas.

“He still comes, and we have morning practices at 5:30 a.m. sometimes, and he’s always chipper and happy. He always has a positive feeling on the team and feels like we’re doing something good. It makes everyone else feel good and be able to take that energy and use it on the field.”