Christopher Link - Summer 2012 Honoree
Link began playing soccer at age 4 and was diagnosed with a rare kidney tumor one year later. He shared with the Fund that cancer has given him a lot of perspective on adversity, especially during his treatment and recovery. “I couldn’t run as fast or as far while I was on chemo,” said Link, “so I decided no one would get to our goal. One time, I knocked heads with another player. He went down and I played on. I remember thinking, ‘Cancer can’t get me down and neither can you!’ So now when things don’t go my way, I think of that time playing soccer.”
Chris was presented with a trip to New York City to see Chelsea FC play Paris Saint-Germain at Yankee Stadium on July 22. Thanks to Chelsea in America, a coalition of Chelsea supporters' groups, Chris was surprised with a team meet-and-greet after the game and an up-close look at Chelsea's 2012 UEFA and FA Cups.
Zachary Wiley - Spring 2011 Honoree
Wiley was diagnosed with stage-4 Burkitt’s lymphoma in August 2009. Although inpatient treatment became his full-time focus for several months, Zach’s parents shared stories of doctors kicking the ball around with Zach in the oncology ward halls.
Zach became the center of attention during the pre-game ceremonies in the May 1, 2011 Serie A match between AC Milan and Bologna. Through the generosity of AC Milan, the 11-year-old cancer survivor from Catonsville, MD was honored with the ultimate fan experience at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. In addition to executive-class seats with VIP access and a hands-on stadium tour, Zachary served as mascot to the referee squad, carrying out the official game ball before 74,121 fans, which made the match the most attended game in Serie A history.
Jordyn Farrell - Fall 2010 Honoree
Thanks to a mention by senior writer Grant Wahl in a column on SI.com this past February, news of the Craig Willinger Fund (CWF) quickly spread beyond Baltimore. After reading of CWF’s mission, Jordyn Farrell’s father encouraged her to share her story of survival. Jordyn was diagnosed with dysgerminoma, a type of ovarian cancer, after the discovery of a soccer ball-sized tumor in February 2009, and completed treatment in November 2009 after a recurrence of the disease.
“Soccer (and my team) helped me get through the worst of times”, Jordyn wrote, “but was therapeutic because it remained one of the ‘normal’ things in my life. Soccer allowed me to set goals to achieve in the midst of my treatment…my goal was to be back on the soccer field by February – and I did it!”
As a guest of the FC Barcelona Foundation, Jordyn was honored with special seating and access to members only hospitality. After the game, she was surprised with a player meet and greet, including a meeting her idol Lionel Messi, thanks to special arrangements made by the Leo Messi Foundation.
Kathryn Hudson - Summer 2010 Honoree
Katy has dedicated 16 years of her life to playing soccer, earning All-County, All-Metro and All-State honors as a goalkeeper at River Hill High School in Columbia, MD, as well as at Division I University of Richmond. She played her final year of eligibility at Virginia Commonwealth University, where Katy completed her master’s degree in social work with the goal of working in pediatric oncology. While living her dream playing soccer, Katy’s most amazing accomplishment is overcoming a cancer diagnosis in February of 2004. Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, she continued playing soccer through five months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, finding a partner to her dream in Dr. Joseph Wiley, a pediatric oncologist at Sinai Hospital, who tailored Katy’s treatments around her soccer schedule.
Katy stepped up to the role of mentor, when she was introduced to 12-year old Amanda Post, another Sinai cancer patient and aspiring soccer player from Columbia. Despite having the busy schedule of a Division I student-athlete, Katy stayed in contact with Amanda throughout her treatment and through the JV soccer experience at River Hill High School. After Amanda’s cancer relapsed, Katy chose to run a marathon in honor of her friend and cancer buddy, an aspiring marathoner. Katy completed the San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon as a member of Team In Training, having raised $11,000 in honor of her friend Amanda. Amanda lost her battle with cancer on May 17, 2009, just two weeks before the San Diego Marathon.
Katy and her father traveled to South Africa for World Cup 2010. Katy was surprised with a breakfast invitation from the US Men's National Team and saw Team USA take on England in the first round of play.
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With your help, the help of our friends and the help of those committed to making a better life for those suffering from cancer, our dream is to once again fulfill our promise and make someone's wildest soccer dreams come true.
Craig Willinger Fund
712 S. Conkling Street
Baltimore MD 21224