Four senior football players at Richard Winn Academy are trading in their football cleats for walking shoes to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on Oct.4.
As participants in the Light the Night Walk, team captains Reid Johnson, Corey Davis, Sidney Edenfield and Zelick Levy have formed Team Lily, a group to raise money in honor of Richard Winn Academy student Lily Baggott.
The elementary school student was diagnosed with leukemia last year. The first grader is doing well right now, though she still is under medical care.
Her mother, Liz Baggott, is a longtime friend with Johnson’s mother, Gina, and Liz Baggott approached the young manwith the idea of him participating in the walk. Liz Baggottdid the walk last year.
When Johnson decided to be on the team, he told his best friends and they wanted to reach out in honor of their young friend, Lily.
Last spring Davis and Edenfield became close to Lily while doing yard work for her mom.
Often Lily would be outside playing while the boys got yard work done.
The youth attended an informational meeting where one of the speakers was University of South Carolina head baseball coach Chad Holbrook whose son is a cancer survivor.
Holbrook’s son will be an honorary member of the USC baseball team’s group that will be in the walk since he had this kind of cancer, too.
Hearing from Holbrook inspired the four teens and they spread the word to others about the annual fund raising event which will be held Thursday, Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. in Finlay Park in Columbia.
Now the team has grown to include the entire football team and a large portion of the surrounding community. Cheerleaders have been contacted about joining as have other students.
The walk holds more meaning for the teens because cancer has reached close to home for them.
Recently, Levy’s father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and he began cancer treatments. When they learned of the diagnosis, Johnson’s parents called Levy to see if he would like to be represented by team Lily as well, and he agreed to do so, though he prefers the attention to be on the teens and their fund raising efforts, not on himself.
Also, Edenfield’s father had cancer in the lymph nodes when the teen was 9 years old.
The money and awareness raised by the walk helps fund efforts to find cures for these specific kinds of cancers.
The funds raise not only go toward cancer research but to provide needed services in local communities.
As part of the walk, walkers carry different colored balloons.
“This is something we need to be a part of. It shows a lot of people care and that people with cancer are no different than anyone else,” Johnson said.
As part of the walk, walkers carry different colored balloons. The illuminated red balloons are for supporters. White balloons are for cancer survivors and gold balloons are for persons who have lost a loved one due to cancer.
“Even if you don’t donate money,” Davis said, “please come to the walk and help raise awareness and support.”
The young men have set a team goal of raising $2,500 to go toward cancer research.
More information about donating and joining the team can be found at www.lightthenight.org.
To donate from that website, go to the home page and choose donate.
Type “Reid” into a search to locate Team Lily.
Checks may be made out to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the checks can be send to Richard Winn Academy where volunteers will ensure they reach the society.