On Saturday, our viking family welcomed over 20 kids who are either currently fighting, or who have beaten the fight against cancer and other blood disorders. This annual event is hosted by the Kid’s Kicking Cancer program located out of the University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. Both men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams participated in Saturday’s festivities for the 10th consecutive year.
For those unfamiliar with the Kid’s Kicking Cancer program, their mission is to encourage young patients and survivors to live active, fun, and healthy lifestyles. They hold free clinics for swimming, basketball, soccer, golf and more! Kids Kicking Cancer partners with both professional and collegiate athletes to give the kids an experience they will never forget. The Kids Kicking Cancer program is free of charge and welcomes children and adolescents, either on or off treatment, no matter where they receive medical care.
Saturday’s event consisted of an inspirational talk from head coach, Paul Graham, as well as a look into a “day in the life of a college athlete” from Junior Mac Lewis, and senior Jonathon LaValle. After that it was pool time! The water activities included (but were definitely not limited to) everything from technique work, chicken fights, flips into the pool, kick board baseball, and creating their own whirlpool! After everyone had exhausted all of their energy, there was a pizza lunch to finish off the afternoon.
Our student athletes had an absolute blast. Freshman Lexie Kostelnik gave input into what her first Kids Kicking Cancer event meant to her. “Being involved in Kid’s Kicking Cancer means so much to me because it is absolutely humbling to see how strong and spirited these children and their families are. I had so much fun spending time with all the kids, and I’ve never seen such bright smiles before…especially on my teammates!!”
Sophomore DJ Arslanian also had a few words to say about his second time attending the event. “I love participating in Kids Kicking Cancer because seeing how much fun the kids have, and how much they look forward to it makes me very happy.”
Freshman Patrick Lance has a few very special reasons why he enjoyed this event so much. “I love kids, and I’m planning on changing my major to education and special education to help them out as well. I loved this event because between friends and family, I have known six people with cancer, so I know the toll it takes on them. Any opportunity I have to distract them from the bad that’s going on, and get them to have fun and feel like a normal kid, I’m going to take it. I plan on serving in the US Marine Corps after college, and the reason I want to do so is for people like them. They inspire me with their willingness to fight. Seeing them laugh and have a great time makes me feel like I’m doing everything I could for them.”
Senior Jamie VanDewerker gave a glimpse into how Kids Kicking Cancer has impacted her over the past four years.”Every year I think Kids Kicking Cancer not only allows children who have faced such difficult things in their lives come and enjoy the pool, but the swim team really ends up playing around in the water too. It’s great to take a break and just splash around with some new friends, and realize that something as little as making a whirl pool can bring so much joy to everyone.”
The day was a huge success and we are so grateful for this partnership with Kid’s Kicking Cancer. We are already looking forward to next year’s event! Please enjoy some snapshots of all the fun below: