Storm rallying around coach’s daughter with chronic illness

Published: Jun. 22, 2023 at 9:05 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Over one hundred kids from Lutheran Social Services were out at the Sanford Sports Complex Thursday, working with players from the Sioux Falls Storm for a football camp. The camp is just one example of how the Storm gives back to the community, but now one of their own has been fighting a battle and needs the communities to help.

The camp was nothing but smiles and joyful screams.

“These kids don’t get to this very often, so seeing the joy on their faces, they might not know what they’re doing, they’re just happy to be here,” Peyton Riggs said, Sioux Falls Storm offensive coordinator.

For the Riggs family, the mood may change on Friday. As they prepare for a fundraiser for Afton, head coach Kurtiss Riggs’ daughter.

“She spent two months at the Mayo Clinic. She spent a month at the University of Kansas medical center. She’s now at the Spero Clinic out in Arkansas, and she’ll be there for about 20 and a half weeks,” Kurtiss Riggs said.

In 2020, as a senior in high school, Afton was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome. CRPS is a rare condition that leads to a lot of pain for those enduring it.

“You can see how it consumed her life and really took her away from other opportunities, and she’s tried more experimental things than I think any kid has,” Kurtiss Riggs said.

Her brother Peyton Riggs talked about the relationship he has with his sister.

“She’s a best friend that I never really recognized that I had because we would always bicker and fight. I feel like every sibling does that, but she’s also someone I know I can talk to about anything and I’ll know she’ll support me,” Peyton Riggs said.

This is why seeing his sister in such great pain hasn’t been easy.

”Watching her struggle to walk and her foot would lock up all the time, and she couldn’t straighten or get her whole foot on the ground; that was pretty hard for me to watch. I had been through injuries, so for me, all I know is you’re injured, you rehab, you’re better and with her, it never got better it just progressively kept getting worse,” Peyton Riggs said.

Talking with members of the Storm, a family dynamic is very prevalent, which explains why people have stepped in to rally around one of their own, as Afton continues her path to recovery.

“She just had her fifth surgery and it’s been a tough time, it’s been difficult, but you find ways, and things like this really help out,” Kurtiss Riggs said.

Friday the Storm players will battle it out on the field against Green Bay as they sit on the playoff bubble, and the rest of the Storm family will help raise money for Afton as she continues her battle.

“I’ve tried not to think about it so far, because for me as the offensive coordinator, it’s a must-win game, so I’ve been more trying to think about the x’s and o’s, but I do know that I’m sure I’ll get emotional before the game starts when they’re talking about the fundraiser for her,” Peyton Riggs said.

The game against the Blizzard is set to kick off at 7:00 p.m. The fundraiser for Afton will include a 50/50 drawing, a silent auction, and a donation center.