King Athletics to Host Make-A-Wish Night for Local Youth

Help make a local child's dream of visiting Disney come true this Thursday when SAAC and Make-a-Wish team up for a fundraising mission during King's basketball doubleheader.

BRISTOL, Tenn. –  On Thursday, Jan. 24, King College’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) will host the third annual Make-A-Wish Night as part of the King Tornado Men’s and Women’s Basketball home game against conference rival, Limestone College of Gaffney, S.C.  The funds raised during the event will go toward granting a wish for a local youth, Kellan. 

“This will be our third annual Make-A-Wish Night sponsored by SAAC,” said King senior Kelsey Copeland.  “The past two years have been very successful.  We raised around $1,200 each year.  This year, we are making a few changes that will hopefully lead to greater amount of funds raised. 

“For the first time, we are sponsoring a specific Wish Child,” continued Copeland.  “In the past, all the money we have raised has been donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but, this year, we are "adopting" Kellan, a five year-old little girl from the Tri-Cities Area.  We are hoping to grant her wish of going on a Disney Cruise or to Disney World (she hasn't decided between the two yet).”

“Kellan was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, an aggressive malignant brain tumor occurring mainly in children, on March 22, 2011,” said her mother Sarah.  “After a CT scan revealed a four cm tumor, Kellan had a craniotomy at LeBonheur in Memphis on March 25, where the doctor was able to resect the entire tumor.  She was then moved to St. Jude for four months of inpatient chemo, six weeks of focal radiation, and then came home for six more months of outpatient oral chemo.  During her treatment, Kellan battled nausea, vomiting, fatigue, extreme weight loss, joint and nerve pain, as well as the infections and issues that come with any chemo treatment.  Despite all of the pain and illness she faced, she had a great time at St. Jude, and is always excited to return for scans.  It is an amazing place--the kids really do have FUN while they are there. 

“Kellan's most recent scans showed no evidence of disease--she is currently scanned every three months, as medulloblastoma has a very high recurrence rate, and will be scanned at varying intervals until she is 18,” Sarah continued.  “She has some mild hearing loss, joint pain, and sinus issues as a result of her treatment, but nothing slows her down.  She is a happy, healthy, thriving kindergartener with very little memory of being ill, thanks to St. Jude.  Make-A-Wish has provided our family with something to look forward to during Kellan's scans.  We are so excited to be able to take a trip as a family to celebrate Kellan's miraculous recovery and to enjoy the time we have together.”

During the two basketball games on the Jan. 24, the SAAC hopes to raise awareness as well as funds to grant Kellan's wish.  “Money from the gate/admissions and the concession stand will be donated, along with the money raised from t-shirt sales and personalized Wish Stars,” said Copeland.  “The signed Wish Stars will hang in the gym along with posters and other decorations to show our support for Kellan.  As special guest of the evening, Kellan will serve as the honorary captain of both Tornado basketball teams.

Kellan’s grandmother shared, “These kids with cancer and other catastrophic illnesses go through so much.  It touches my heart to experience first-hand the outpouring of caring concern from the community as they surround the kids, and their families, with prayers, love, and support to make their journey as little easier.  Make-A-Wish gives them an opportunity to make happy memories in the midst of challenging days.”

King’s Make-A-Wish evening on Jan. 24 will begin with women’s basketball at 5:30 p.m., followed by men’s basketball at 7:30 p.m.  In addition to the Make-A-Wish event, King is also honoring active military and veterans.  In a show of appreciation, active military/veterans, along with their families, will receive free admission with proof of military identification. 

For additional information, contact Ryan Gasser, sports information director for King Athletics, at 423.652.6368 or rsgasser@king.edu.