What were you doing at 14? Probably hanging out with your friends in Junior High. Possibly playing sports, going to school events or doing crazy things outside of school, daring friends to talk to the opposite sex?
Well, a friend of mine has a son...he's 14. I remember the first time he walked into the gym when our group was playing pickleball. This kid always has a huge smile on his face. Nothing gets to him and he is always positive. His grin is permanent :)!! Anyway, he knew what pickleball was because he learned it in middle school. I Love the fact that they teach the sport in school. Spreading the game - that's what it's all about, right? Well, he picked up a paddle and was immediately ready. The necessary skill set and his coordination weren’t quite there, but he was learning and trying hard to master these components. Always smiling of course. After a day of play, he came back the next morning for more. It was the summer, so each day he would pop in the gym and play while his mom would take an exercise class. He gradually improved as most young kids do. Each time he would run onto the court to play, he would try to accurately place those shots.
Just like that, school started and he was gone. He would occasionally pop his head in to the gym, but on the weekends he played basketball. A little while back I saw him with crutches. I said, “Hey, what did you do? Take your bike off some crazy jumps?” He smiled, and shook his head. His mom told me why he was having to use crutches. At that point I don't know what happened, but everything seemed to stop. His mom said he had Hodgkin's Lymphoma Stage 4. The disease spread from his femur into another area. 14 years old! A kid at any age shouldn't have to endure anything remotely close to cancer at all. Why? I asked myself.
His attitude is great. He's positive, gets to play on a PS4...and to kids at this age, it's a big deal. :) His first chemo session is aggressive. I'm quite sure it will be tough, but the Doctors say it is curable. So what did I automatically think about when I heard this from his mom? Of course, sadness and then my thoughts went straight to my 13 year old. BUT, I thought, OK, I want to get a package or basket made and send it out to the hospital to cheer him up-make him feel like a normal teenager. I want to plan a pickleball tournament to raise money for his family and doctor bills. I want to lift his spirits by sending a video from all of us crazy pickleballers. I then thought what do other pickleball clubs or "Pros" do when tragedy hits their inner circle? I've heard of many pickleball tournaments that donate to charities such as JDRF, Breast Cancer Awareness, Lump to Laughter, and The SEMO CHEMO Tournament. Do Pros offer clinics to help local charities or families dealing with cancer or other issues? How many area tournaments set aside money for charities? I think this is a significant part of this sport, helping others and still introducing/playing pickleball. Spreading the game while caring about the families within our community. What do you think? Do your clubs organize events and donate to charities? Let’s all work to build the HEART of the sport!