Community hero, 2009: Quinn Clarke, 10, helps other kids with cancer

December 27, 2009  |  Posted by Joe Guillen

After 10-year-old Quinn Clarke got bad news about his cancer, he told his parents -- Kip and Allison -- that he wanted to organize kickball games to raise money for pediatric cancer research that would help other kids.

A year and a half later, 35 games in nine states have raised $44,000.

"I feel kind of happy because all of these people are taking away their time to do something to help kids," Quinn said in a recent interview.

Hospital visits and cancer treatment have become routine in Quinn's young life. But the optimistic fourth-grader is determined to make a difference with Kick It, the organization he started.

Kick It is part of the nonprofit Flashes of Hope, founded by Quinn's mom, Allison, which strives to take uplifting photographs of children fighting cancer. Her experience helped build Kick It, which has developed a relationship with the Cleveland Indians and put on a game at Progressive Field in June.

Allison Clarke hopes that Kick It can become a pediatric cancer version of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

"Quinn wants to raise millions, and we believe it's possible, too," Clarke said.

Apart from his standout status as a youthful philanthropist, Quinn has the interests of many 10-year-old boys. He loves sports -- especially basketball and college football -- video games, candy and watching the "Rocky" movies with his friends.

He wants to be a lawyer and a player for the Cavaliers when he grows up.

Yet for all the similarities Quinn shares with his classmates at Chagrin Falls Intermediate School, his health problems have given him experiences many of them probably couldn't fathom.

As a toddler, Quinn overcame rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that forms in soft tissues. But in 2008, he was diagnosed as having a rare Triton tumor. Chemotherapy was ineffective, so in December of that year Quinn underwent a 10-hour surgery to remove the tumor and his left hip.

Clarke said the cancer could return and, if it does, there would be few options for Quinn. He is now on an experimental medication that has delayed tumors from growing back in mice.

It was in the summer of 2008, when Quinn was undergoing regular chemotherapy, that he proposed creating the charity kickball organization. He learned the game at school, where the sport was popular.

The first game, held five days after he came up with the idea, drew 500 people, Clarke said.

Quinn's charity brainchild is just one of his big-picture ideas. In one conversation, he also threw out ideas for a kickball league for kids with one hip and a national policy our leaders could consider:

"I would just put more money into taxes so the money would go to pediatric cancer research," he said.

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