Arnav shook off the fall and went on to finish 9th.
Then, just weeks later, Arnav’s leg began bothering him. He developed a noticeable limp—but it seemed typical for an athlete who was training four to six hours a day, six days a week. Rest and ice did nothing to curb the pain. Arnav kept racing, even though his leg ached. Then, Arnav had an MRI which revealed osteosarcoma, the most common type of bone cancer in children. Typically diagnosed in adolescence and more frequently in boys, osteosarcoma starts as pain around a joint. Often, like in Arnav’s case, the pain is attributed to a sports injury.
Ohio All-State football player, Matt Colella battled cancer as a middle school student. As a way to raise money for childhood cancer research while still in high school, Matt asked others to pledge a dollar amount for each point he made as his team’s kicker. The idea worked and Matt initially raised over $7,000.
Matt brought the idea with him to Kohl’s Professional Camps, the premier training program for football kickers, punters and long-snappers. The synergy was instant and with the support of Jamie Kohl, Kohl’s Kicking Camps founder and camp director, the Kick-It Champion program was born.
With every field goal and extra point, players have scored big for kids with childhood cancer—raising over $500,000 for research and inspiring athletes to take all the lessons they learn on the field, off the field.
We spoke with Jamie Kohl about Kohl’s Professional Camps and the impact of the Kick-It Champion’s program.
ALSF: When you have your camps, how do you get the players excited about being a Kick-It Champion?
JK: At our big camps, we start the session with a video about how Kick-It was started, how it has grown, how it impacts lives and how our athletes can partner with the organization to help fund childhood cancer research. A representative from Kick-It is always on site to share information, answer questions and meet the players and their families.
ALSF: What is the reaction when the players first hear about Kick-It Champions?
JK: Because we put an emphasis on the Kick-It program during the camp’s introduction, the players understand it is something at Kohls that we are passionate about supporting. They understand it is something that is important. They trust it is something that can make a difference. The athletes are excited about the opportunity to contribute by utilizing their skills that they are trying to master at our camp—kicking, punting, snapping—and use their skills to raise money for a great cause.
ALSF: Why is the Kick-It Champions program so important to you?
JK: I feel it is very, very important to use the platform that football gives you and to use the gifts you have to been given to contribute to society in a positive way. And sometimes it seems difficult to do that. Our players learn an important lesson that being a contributor is important. They learn not just to think about themselves. We are able to help them have a more worldly view about the importance of giving up their time to help others. Eventually, everybody in that room will need somebody to help them in their life. It is an important life lesson because football will only be there for a short time, and then they have to go out into the real world. If they can learn that life lesson through Kick-It, I think that is awesome. Making an impact on others can leave a much longer trail—and can continue for many years beyond their football playing career.
ALSF: How do you envision continuing to grow Kick-It Champions at camp?
JK: Our campers have done a heck of a job. We will continue to highlight Kick-It Champions at camp and help the players understand the power and impact they can have. Kick-It will continue to play an important role in our players’ lives whether they come back to Kohl’s or whether they stop playing football. Everyone can continue to support childhood cancer research. Cancer is something that affects us all. It is universal; it goes beyond all the divides in our nation. This is a good way to get young people started in making a difference and hopefully, they can continue to make a difference for kids with cancer and in their communities.
Let more about Kick-It and the Kick-It Champions program, powered by Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation here.
Grandma and ALSF supporter Rebecca Byrom jumped from a plane to raise money for childhood cancer research.
by Adam Paris, ALSF
There are many different ways people support Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and the fight against childhood cancer, but some people go above and beyond with their crazy fundraising ideas. ALSF always encourages people to get creative and here are 10 of the most unique ways supporters have helped fight childhood cancer.
1. A Skydiving Grandma
Rebecca Byrom (aka Grandma Bee) wanted to support her grandson Alex, who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2016. Since Alex faced his scary situation so bravely, she wanted to do something that scared her: skydiving! Despite being over 70 years old, both she and her husband Tom leapt from a plane in San Diego last July. With over $28,000 raised, facing her fears certainly paid off for Grandma Bee as she made a huge impact for kids with cancer.
2. Sleeping On a Roof
Lionville Middle School Principal Jon Ross is a man of his word. So when he told his students and staff that if they raised $7,500 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation he would sleep on the school’s roof for a night, he meant it. The students did their part and Ross remained on the roof all night with just a tent and sleeping bag in the chilly December weather.
3. Creating a Massive Middle School Contest
What started as a friendly fundraising competition between rival middle schools, Paxon Hollow and Haverford in Pennsylvania, has grown exponentially. Each year, around 2,000 students gather for The Potter Cup, a lemonade laden event with carnival games and competitive sports. Following an inspirational pep rally, the schools compete in basketball and wrestling as students cheer on their classmates. Since it started fundraising for ALSF in 2005, the Potter Cup has raised over $400,000!
4. Kissing a Pig
Not many people would be brave enough to give a pig a peck with their lips, but in Connecticut, Avon Middle School principal David Kimball made good on his promise to kiss an oinker after his students raised over $1,500 for ALSF. Even their janitor and vice principal got in on the animal smooching too and kissed a goat and calf after students hit their fundraising goals.
5. Running a 5K in Tutus
Yellow tutus are commonplace at ALSF events, but it’s not often you get hundreds of folks wearing them together. That was the case at the Cancer Can Kiss My Tutu 5K in Rapid City, SD. Several cancer survivors even ran at the event, but everyone crossed the finish line having raised funds and awareness thanks to their colorful outfits.
6. Smashing Cake
Why would anyone want to ruin a perfectly good cake? To raise money for childhood cancer research of course! At a cake smashing event at The Ultimate Bake Shoppe in Wayne, PA, they did just that by clobbering cakes aplenty and raising nearly $500. They even snapped photos of the frosting covered participants.
7. Tossing Lemon Footballs
When Ellwood City and Beaver Falls high schools were about to face off in football last fall, two teachers who are siblings—one at each school-- decided to make things interesting. They created the Lemon Toss Challenge and organized fundraising events before the main event at halftime of the game. Two teachers threw footballs painted yellow (to look like lemons) into garbage bins that represented a lemonade pitcher. The losing teacher had to wear a shirt from the opposing school.
8. Gaming for 24 Hours Straight
Most people enjoy playing video games for a few hours or two, but it’s not often people play for 24 hours straight. That’s precisely what a group of employees from Power Home Remodeling Group did. Viewers could watch the entire session via a livestream. They also played a game that tells the story of a family facing a child’s diagnosis with cancer. The event raised over $2,200.
9. Building The World’s Largest Cup of Lemonade
World records are made to be broken, and the Adkins family grandstand has done just that for two years in a row! In 2016, they created #BigLemonade, the world’s largest cup of Alex's lemonade ever (10 feet tall and filled with over 1,700 gallons of lemonade) and followed it up last year with the world record for the longest line of lemonade stands (over 500 feet of lemonade stands!). Who knows what record they will make (or break) this year?!
10. Not Shaving For A Year
Managing a scruffy beard can be annoying, but it was well worth it to Rob Jensen, an army veteran and lawyer who didn’t shave for an entire year and raised over $12,000. His “caveman year” was inspired by a friend’s daughter who was fighting cancer for the third time and his no-shave dedication never wavered!
Penelope was a little over 2 years old when she was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma. Chemotherapy initially expanded her tumor, but doctors were then able to remove it safely. Penelope is nearing the end of treatment and continues to amaze her parents. Read more »
Our Scientific Advisory Board chooses projects that are likely to make critical contributions to current pediatric cancer research and play a part in bringing the latest and most promising lifesaving treatments for these children.