Yvonne grew up in a household where the love of sports ran deep. Her father, Hall of Fame Coach Nolan Richardson, was a successful basketball coach who fondly remembers the days she spent in the gyms. Yvonne grew up to become exceptionally athletic herself. Yvonne loved the game, but she gravitated towards gymnastics’ high-intensity and agile movement. She had a heart for everyone and wore it on her sleeve. No one ever had to guess how Yvonne felt because her face revealed it all. She was not afraid to speak what was on her mind or in her heart. Her inquisitions were thought-provoking, and her honesty was unbiased. Even at such a young age, her level of wit and awareness were unmatched. She embodied a Spirit that was beyond her physical years. Coach Richardson shares a sentimental memory that he recalls vividly:
“My birthday is a couple of days after Christmas. One year, I opened a gift from her, and it was one sock. Just one! I asked her where the other pair was, and she replied, You’ll get the other one on your birthday! Only she would do something like that!”
After an arduous battle with leukemia, Yvonne passed away on January 22, 1987. She was 15.
During their time at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Coach devoted effort to getting to know many children there. When he would return to visit, he was immediately heartbroken to have heard of their passing. To witness so much suffering and to have been a part of that suffering too, Coach Richardson and his wife, Rose, had a new life purpose. They were determined to assist in future research funding and provide monetary support for families in need.