Those who were involved in the Wasmer Games this past Sunday were all happy to finish and get packed up before the line of storms from the West began their assault on Ohio City. For those of us whose time on Wasmer Field was just beginning, a precipitous drop in temperature and the threat of heavy weather kept everyone looking to the western sky to see just how long we would have before our festivities would be halted by that first bolt of lightning or crack of thunder.
It was after 8:30 p.m. by the time Jim Brennan ’85 locked the Lorain Avenue gate of Wasmer Field and we began the short walk to our cars. Enough rain had fallen to make the playing surface a bit, as they say in the British Isles, ‘greasy’ (pronounced ‘gree-zee’), but the thunder and lightning stayed away entirely and we finished with a fantastic final game between Team Ritschel and eventual champions Team Adler.
And so the 9th Annual Kevin Healey ’07 Memorial Kick-It Tournament is in the books, but there can be no end to the work that inspired the founding of Kick It and our school’s yearly tournament and fund-raising. Since our games ended on Sunday evening about 100 families have been given the life-changing and all too often life-shattering news that a child of theirs has cancer.
It would be difficult to find a family that has not been hit with cancer, and fortunate are those whose loved ones can be counted among the survivors. Over the past several decades certain cancers have been the focus of intense fund-raising and research, which have cut the mortality rates to levels low enough that patients stricken with those cancers can be given a reasonable hope of beating the odds. Sadly, the cancers that attack children do not receive the attention that would afford these children a fighting chance.
With around 4 percent of federal cancer research funds and 1 percent of private research funds earmarked for development into the cure for the various pediatric cancers the hope for survival is lessened for those who ideally have the longest to live. Without the high profile support given to other cancers from places like Hollywood and the NFL, families of children with cancer must rely on grass-roots efforts like Kick It, Alex’s Lemonade Stand and St. Baldrick’s.
That’s why the thousands of kick ball games that are played across the country each year matter so much. The donations made by the families and friends of the players are more than just token, feel-good efforts for a cause, they are essential to the ultimate eradication of those cancers that steal the youth of almost 14,000 new children each year.
Last year at this time I wrote about this topic from the standpoint of being the member of a club that no one ever wants to join – the club of those who have lost a child to cancer. Everyone reading this knows at least one member of this terrible club. Our hope is that everything can be done to fight these cancers so that someday there will be a first class of Saint Ignatius graduates who have no members in the club.
Even though this year’s tournament has been played, the ability to support a team or a player still exists. Anyone who would like to help the cause can go to our new website, associated with Alex’s Lemonade Stand, at https://www.alexslemonade.org/mypage/1445400. As with last year, there is a team named Close Down the Club for those who might not know a particular student-athlete, but who want to honor the families of those who have lost a child to cancer.
Along with work, there must be prayer – as St. Benedict taught a millennium and a half ago, along with labora there must be ora. Before we began our kick ball games on Sunday we were led in that prayer by Campus Ministry’s Fr. Dan Reim, S.J., who himself battled and beat leukemia as a child. May his prayer be joined with all of ours, and may these prayers bring us to that day when playing kick ball has nothing to do with anything except the child-like joy of playing kick ball.
To hear a podcast about Mr. Healey's creation and writing of Lessons from Loyola Hall, CLICK HERE.