Live United, a United Way-ACC partnership

Lacrosse player mentors 6-12 months-old cancer patient

BY GENE STOWE, FOR NDWORKS

When the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team was paired with Bobby Russell final fall as element of Fighting Irish Battle for Life, a Student Welfare &amp Advancement plan, midfield player Katherine McManus was instantly drawn to the six-12 months-previous who had been undergoing cancer treatment options because he was 2.

“There’s some thing truly particular about that child,” McManus says. “He’s such a sweet, sweet kid and so inspiring. He has a unique light all around him.” 

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The romantic relationship grew so shut that Bobby called McManus “my girlfriend” and she went with him to his monthly chemotherapy therapies at Memorial Hospital, where they would perform Bingo and Candy Land and study books with each other.

“We became truly close by way of that. I went to his get together at Chuck E. Cheese for his sixth birthday,” she says, adding that many lacrosse group members enjoyed the connection. “We took Bobby to a good deal of video games this 12 months, not just our very own – basketball, soccer, volleyball. We wished him to get excited about the other sports on campus as well.

“It grew to become so a lot far more than just a local community support facet.”

Their inspiring story has turn out to be a video for Dwell United, a two-decade-outdated collaboration between the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and United Way Worldwide, which includes United Way of St. Joseph County, that will be shown on television, on-line, and on the Jumbotron at basketball and hockey video games. 

Fighting Irish Fight for Daily life pairs Notre Dame varsity teams with individuals in the pediatric Hematology/Oncology unit of South Bend’s Memorial Hospital so the individuals, ages 5 to 18, can knowledge a portion of a student-athlete’s existence. The connection begins at a Signing Day the place young children are introduced to their teammates and signal a “letter of intent” committing to the group.

“They’re fighting for their lives,” McManus says. “It’s great to see how properly they do it and the help they have from their households. It was truly entertaining to be a part of.”

In addition to the organized Fight for Existence events, which includes a Christmas celebration, a visit to a lacrosse game, and participation in Notre Dame’s Relay for Life, McManus went to his regular monthly Thursday morning chemo treatment options.

Robert Russell, Bobby’s father, says the relationship helped by means of the last year of chemotherapy. Bobby was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s B-cell lymphoma on Feb. 14, 2011, at age two, and obtained treatment till Might, when he was declared cancer-free.

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“As these monthly visits went on, Katherine was genuinely the normal,” he says. They genuinely took a liking to every other.” When Bobby was honorary captain at a lacrosse game, his jersey variety was 25—Katherine’s is 26—and his locker was up coming to hers.

Katherine, who had been close to young cancer individuals whilst she was increasing up in Massachusetts because of her mother’s operate at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, located herself thinking of ways to help Bobby’s family each time she had a break in her routine.

“These illnesses not only impact the child but they have an effect on the family and the friends and the entire network,” she says. “I knew how deep occasionally these illnesses can lower into someone’s daily life. There is something so specific about Bobby. It did not truly feel like a support soon after the initial handful of occasions I was with him.

“The way he attacks his cancer treatment and every little thing was remarkable. He had this specific daily life about him. He was so unfazed, so generous. It gave me a sturdy sense of viewpoint. I grew a great deal as a person. I came to recognize a lot a lot more about myself and how the planet operates and the importance of standpoint.”

Initially published by Gene Stowe at publicaffairs.nd.edu on October 24, 2014.

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