May 24, 2010 | Posted by Ingrid Schaefer Sprague
Brecksville-Broadview Heights Middle School students are helping to kick pediatric cancer by holding kick ball games for charity through Kick-It, an organization started by a motivated boy with a rare form of cancer, to help find a cure for the disease.
With a May 3 assembly, BBHMS kicked off the fundraiser to sponsor the kickball games to be held on the last day of school.
Maria Ganim Schneider, physical education teacher, organized the games and teams after learning about Kick-It from the mother of Quinn Clarke, 10, of Chagrin Falls.
Allison Glovna Clarke, Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School Class of 1988, founded Kick-It with Quinn. Clarke also founded Flashes of Hope, a nonprofit organization that provides portrait photography of pediatric cancer patients. Both organizations have served pediatric patients nationally.
Quinn thought of his favorite game of kickball as a way to raise money for cancer research along with his friend Ava Harb, a fellow cancer patient, three years ago. Quinn is one of only 100 children worldwide who suffer from a rare cancer called rhabdomyo sarcoma, and is currently being treated with an experimental drug only used before in mice.
At the assembly, Quinn told the more than 1,100 BBHMS students about his group.
“When I was 8-years-old, I got cancer for the second time,” Quinn said. “The hard part about having cancer is you have to be in the hospital all the time. The good part is you make a lot of new friends – sometimes even famous ones like Coach Mike Brown. Go Cavs!
“When the doctors kept telling me bad news, I decided to help them find a cure. I asked my parents if we could have a kickball game to raise money for research.”
That first event brought out 500 spectators.
“All my friends were there. It was amazing,” Quinn said. “We raised a lot of money and had so much fun!”
Two other families whose children are afflicted by cancer also attended. Kathy and Don Reed, of Brecksville, brought their son Jesse, 4, who has received treatment for T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma for the last seven months.
Jesse’s siblings include Julia, 12, at BBHMS, who will be playing on Jesse’s “team,” and Maddy, 10, who attends Central School in Brecksville.
“I love the idea of getting these cancer-surviving children out into the community for everyone’s benefit,” said Don Reed. “The idea of bringing it ‘closer to home’ by representing local survivors gives the players a vehicle to help. This is especially satisfying if they know the sibling or the cancer patient. I am pleased because it raises general awareness and especially among school-aged children.”
Melinda Keserich, of Broadview Heights, came with her son Joe, 6, whose leukemia is in remission after three years of treatment. Joe is a kindergarten student in Michelle Pagan’s class at Chippewa Elementary School, in Brecksville. He has three siblings, Emma, 12, who attends BBHMS; Joe, 6; Nate, 21 and Andrew, 22.
“Aside from the money going to pediatric research which is wonderful, I think the kids who participate will learn that cancer touches everyone, even kids in their own community, and we all need to pull together to fight this,” Keserich said.
As of the assembly, $1,500 had already been raised by BBHMS through functions like their dress down days. Each team received a giant poster of a child photographed for Flashes of Hope.
Kick-It Director Cathy Welcsh said the fundraiser puts a face with the disease and helps students learn empathy. She said they often receive letters from the students for the child on the poster, who may be either a local or national child.
The funds raised through Kick-It games are given to the Children’s Oncology Group, the world’s largest cooperative cancer research organization. Welcsh explained that she helps set up games through schools, but games can be organized by any group of children who want to get involved.
“Children can make a difference,” said Welcsh.
The Cleveland Indians baseball players participated in kick ball games between players and children in conjunction with Kick-It and Flashes of Hope last June at Progressive Field. Schneider said 15 to 20 students who are the winners of the BBHMS kick ball games will have the opportunity to play at Progressive Field and then see an Indians game.
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