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Ohio State tournament aims to kick cancer

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"Kick-it-all Star" Reid Zupanc (middle) poses for a photo with Mary Stoll (left) and Sarah Scheiwiller during last year's kickball tournament. Photos courtesy of Katie Widman

“Kick-it-all Star” Reid Zupanc (middle) poses for a photo with Mary Stoll (left) and Sarah Scheiwiller during last year’s kickball tournament. Photos courtesy of Katie Widman

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.


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