Claiming he hurt his back moving furniture, NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon introduced his substitute runner, 8-year-old cancer survivor Marnie Howiler, to the crowd.Marnie, who has been diagnosed with a Wilms tumor, smiled shyly as she twisted her foot in the grass of the outfield. Gordon kicked a low drive and Marnie made it to first base, but she didn’t get to run around the bases before the teams had to change sides. The game between Jeff Gordon Inc. and Jeff Gordon Cellars continued for 20 minutes. Gordon’s next kick was a pop fly, which ended the game in a 1-1 tie.In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and the National Day of Service and Remembrance, Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation and Kick-It hosted the inaugural Charlotte Kicks-It kickball tournament Sept. 11 at CMC–NorthEast Stadium in Kannapolis. It was a fundraiser for childhood cancer research at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.Kick-It, a national nonprofit, was founded by a 10-year-old cancer patient with a dream of playing kickball to cure cancer. A scoreboard on its website says it has raised $1,745,648 through 705 games played before Sept. 11’s event.The Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation joined the effort 18 months ago, and Gordon said he was glad to see the event come to the Charlotte area: “Here is where the racing community lives. Having it here, we can involve their wives and families, too.” Even though reporters wanted answers about the most recent racing controversy, Gordon was brief on that front, saying he was there for the Kick-It event. Before the games began, Gordon addressed the crowd. “I am really glad to see so many people here for such a worthy cause,” he said.Gordon told the crowd he thought it was such a worthy cause that he was going to match donations, “for the month of September, dollar for dollar.” Each team had to raise $1,500 in donations to play. The stadium outfield was divided into three kickball fields so that the 15 teams could play the whole tournament in one night. While bragging rights as “The Best Kickball Team in Town” went to Team JJF – the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson’s) crew team – for the final win, everyone was a winner in raising money for pediatric cancer research.A Kid’s Market, where attendees could purchase trinkets and artwork donated by local children, also added to the fundraising effort. The event itself raised $33,000. With Gordon’s dollar-for-dollar match, $66,000 will be going to help research childhood cancer at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.
Monday, Sep. 23, 2013
Kickball tournament in Kannapolis raises $66,000 for childhood cancer research
Marty Price is a freelance writer and photographer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email him at email@example.com.
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