This past fall, members of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, Alpha Tau Chapter at the University of Utah held their 25th Kevin B. Kennedy Gameball Run fundraiser. The run/fundraiser began in 1988 and renamed in 1994 in memory of former Pi Kappa Alpha, President, Kevin B. Kennedy who lost his three-year battle with brain cancer.
Between 1988 and 1996, Pi Kappa Alpha raised over $60,000 for the American Cancer Society, The Ronald McDonald House, and various other cancer related charities. Since 1997 when Pi Kappa Alpha and Camp Hobé partnered, the fraternity’s active members and alumni have raised over $140,000 for Camp Hobé, which is a camp for children with cancer and their siblings. The donations from Pi Kappa Alpha and other supporters are used to support the camp and keep costs low for participants.
Pi Kappa Alpha’s Gameball Run is no run in the park. Rather, it is a steady jog (depending on where the game is played) from Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah to LaVell Edwards Stadium at Brigham Young University while carrying the unofficial gameball for the Utah vs. BYU football game. Last year, 45 members of the fraternity took turns running over 50 miles with the ball.
Even though this annual event is held in conjunction with a sporting event, the real story are the children who benefit from attending the camp and forgetting about their battles with cancer. Camp Hobé, Camp Director, Chris Beckwith summed it up best by saying the camp allows “…kids to be kids.”
According to Beckwith, the camp serves 230 children and takes place over two weeks each summer, and includes both overnight and day camps for various age groups. Ninety percent of the campers are Utah residents and are referred to the camp by Primary Children’s Hospital.
In discussing how cancer impacts the entire family, Beckwith said, “When a family has a child with cancer, everyone in the family is affected. The cancer patient may be socially isolated because they are missing school and are not physically able to do everything other children can.” Additionally, Beckwith said, “The patient’s siblings may feel “left out” or have to take on additional responsibilities within the family unit, especially when the parents and the patient are at the hospital getting treatments. Both the patient and sibling can feel like no one else “gets” what they are going through.”
Describing how the camp is beneficial, Beckwith said, “Camp is their chance to be around other kids going through the same thing, they get to play and have fun, and be around people with whom they can identify. At camp, cancer is not what makes them different, it’s what makes them belong.”
According to Jackson Engen, Coordinator of the 2013 Gameball Run, members of the fraternity volunteer at the camp each summer. Egen said it is rewarding to see “…the kids full of life and happy to have the chance to attend the camp.” Elaborating on the children, Engen said, “Because of their circumstances, they rarely get the chance to go out and be kids.” Engen said Camp Hobé is rewarding for all members of the fraternity because they get to “…see these kids so full of life and happy…”
If you are looking for a volunteer opportunity, Camp Hobé is currently looking for volunteers. Please review the requirements to volunteer. If you have additional questions, contact Chris Beckwith at Camp Hobé at 801-631-2742 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org