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SWANTON — Taylor Coppenrath stepped down as head coach of the MVU girls basketball team this fall, and last weekend, the girls he led gave the Coppenrath family a very special gift.

“He got emotional up there, and we were all teary-eyed,” said Sabrena Power. “We were so excited to give him the money, and we love his daughters. It was always an awesome surprise when they came to our games.”

Finley Coppenrath, diagnosed with a medical condition, is getting a new buddy this spring--a service dog trained to alert the family when Finley needs help.

“This dog will take some worry off of Taylor and his wife since there will be an extra set of eyes watching her,” shared Ellie Bourdeau, one of Coppenrath’s former players.

“The dog will also help Finley develop more independence for herself since it’s been difficult to do so as a five-year-old with epilepsy.”

Thanks to generous donations online, the Coppenrath family was able to secure a service dog for Finley, and the MVU girls made sure he wouldn’t have to worry about the travel expense.

“We’re such a family unit that giving him the money seemed like the right thing to do,” said Power.

“We appreciate him so much. He’s always given 100 percent effort with us. He’s dedicated, and he brought us all together and made us feel like family.”

Power was glad Coppenrath introduced the team to his daughters. She also noted that even after stepping down as coach, he still stayed in contact, especially when it came to going over game film.

“He believed in us and stuck around, and I’m grateful for that,” said Power. “I understand that it was time for him to step up as a father and take care of his family.”

Bourdeau, who presented a speech at the banquet, shared her thoughts.

“Taylor and I became close at the end of last year, and I wanted to do something to help Finely. She’s such a sweet girl,” said Bourdeau.

“When we saw Taylor was trying to get a service dog for Finley, we knew we wanted to help him out.”

After deciding to help, the girls set about to raise funds.

“We did fundraisers like the spaghetti dinner and the shoot-a-thon, and we took them very seriously so we could give as much as we could to Taylor.”

The evening of the banquet, Bourdeau was so pleased to see the crowd.

“We were all sitting at the top of the room, and we could look down and see the people who had come to support us, and it was amazing.”

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