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April 1, 2013

Remembering Alex by running in her name

McLaughlin set to dedicate race to late friend Miliotis

(Continued)

“We were about 6-years-old when we started playing soccer together,” said McLaughlin. “We were on separate teams. Then we started playing basketball together, all the way through freshman basketball. Alex was very athletic. She was always happy and smiling.”

An athlete since childhood, Miliotis played JV soccer and softball, and was the point guard for the freshman basketball team as freshman at Andover High.

“My sister was definitely one of a kind, which is funny to say because we are twins,” said an emotional Arianna. “She had this spark, she had this real spirit about her. She was athletic, she was smart, she was funny. And she had this temper which was kind of funny. It was what really made her an individual.”

She retained that glimmer even after being diagnosed with cancer following a visit to the doctor for a minor softball injury, needing to spend the majority of her final 10 months in the Intensive Care Unit at the Boston Children’s Hospital.

“Alex was just so positive,” said McLaughlin. “She was so tough even facing such a hard fight, just like she was on the court. No matter what, she never let anything in life beat her. She somehow kept smiling. She was just awesome.

“When she got sick, I don’t think I could really comprehend what was happening. To this day, it is still the worst thing any of us have experienced. You feel so helpless. You can be there for moral support, but you can’t fix it. Watching Arianna and her family go through that was horrible.”

Alex tragically lost her battle on March 15, 2002. One year later to the day, Andover girls basketball took home its first state title in program history — on a dramatic buzzer-beater by Samantha Hughes.

“When we won our (Division 1) state (basketball) title (2003) it was on the one-year anniversary of Alexandra’s death,” said Arianna. “That was very powerful. Everyone said we had an angel in the rafters. That’s really how we felt. Alex never got to play high school sports, but it felt like something we did together.

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