Families, charities and cancer research groups across the United States observe September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. On the Ohio State campus, a group of OSU students are raising funds for childhood cancer research by playing kickball games.
The third annual Kick-It Kickball Tournament at OSU will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Friday on the Lincoln Tower Fields. Students will play kickball in a group of eight to 10 and each is expected to raise at least $50 to support childhood cancer research.
Five children who currently or have previously battled cancer will participate in the event as well, playing kickball and interacting with student players.
Kick-It at OSU plans the tournament. Kick-It at OSU raises funds on behalf of Kick-It, a non-profit organization that raises money for children’s cancer research across the country.
Quinn Clarke was 10 years old when he asked his parents about starting a fundraiser for cancer research, according to Kick-It’s website. Clarke was battling cancer for the second time, and wanted to raise money through his favorite game, kickball. As a result, the kickball tournament was founded in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, in 2009. Since then the organization has raised over $3.4 million, according to the website.
“One hundred percent of what we raise goes directly to research, so everything you raise will help to find a cure,” said Katie Widman, a third-year in marketing and vice president of Kick-It at OSU.
The organization is working toward a goal of $60,000 this year. The money raised will go to research programs of rare types of cancer with greatest research potential, said Ana Sinicariello, a third-year in sports industry and president of Kick-It at OSU.
Sinicariello said Kick-It at OSU raised about $43,000 for the osteosarcoma study by Jiayuh Lin, principle investigator of the Center of Childhood Cancer and Blood Disease at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, during the second tournament.
According to Kick-It’s website, about 13,500 children are diagnosed with cancer each year.
“We still do not know a lot about childhood cancers,” Lin said in an email. Thus, a major challenge oncologists are facing is finding out which mutations cause the cancer and developing new drugs to selectively target these cancer-promoting proteins in order to cure childhood cancers, Lin added.
Lin said he also believes that in some cases, children actually have a greater chance of surviving cancer since children in younger ages have better regeneration ability than older people, because they have more stem cells.
Students in Kick-It at OSU said they are inspired by seeing their “Kick-It All-Stars” — children who have or previously had cancer — having fun and smiling.
As of Monday, 52 teams have signed up for this year’s kickball tournament on the Kick-It at OSU website and over $12,000 has been raised.
Sinicariello said $60,000 is a really high goal, but they are hoping to reach it.
“Every little bit counts … you have $1 to donate or you have $100 to donate, everything is incredible and can help us make a change,” Sinicariello said.