The Sept. 1 Hooks game started as Del Mar College hat day at Whataburger Field, but quickly turned into a day that brought awareness to childhood cancer. One of the three individuals to throw out the first pitch was 7-year-old Keldon Kemp, a childhood cancer survivor.
“When Keldon was diagnosed on May 21, 2012, our family knew that we wanted to bring awareness to this disease,” said Keldon’s mother, Ginger Kemp. “We discovered Brooke’s Blossoms, which is a foundation for childhood cancer. Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the Hooks and Brooke’s Blossoms reached out to us, and asked Keldon to throw the first pitch.”
Brooke’s Blossoms was created in 2010 after 3-year-old Brooke Hester was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma. Brooke and her mother started the organization to bring awareness and raise money to give to research efforts to help find a cure for childhood cancer.
“When Brooke was in the hospital she was devastated about her hair loss, and the fact that she couldn’t have flowers in her room, so a woman made her a headband with a big flower on it to help her confidence,” said Jessica Hester, Brooke’s mother and founder of Brooke’s Blossoms. “Brooke loved making other people happy, so when she saw a little girl upset about her hair loss, she took the headband off of her head and gave it to the girl.”
The foundation was handing out ribbons and flowers while sharing Brooke’s story at the Hooks game.
That instance inspired the mother-daughter duo to start making headbands and hats to give to other boys and girls battling childhood cancer. Their headbands and hats have reached 21,000 children fighting cancer across the United States and in 41 other countries.
“On top of making headwear for the kids, we have several events that people can participate in like our Be Bold ~ GLOW Gold 5K run/walk,” Hester said. “The idea to have a glow-in-the-dark run actually came from Collegiate High School, when Brooke and I went to the glow-in-the-dark pep rally. That day they donated $1,000 to organization.”
At every Hooks game the first week of September, the team had a child with cancer throw the first pitch in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Some corporations such as LNF Distributors, Whataburger and Bay LTD donated suites so local kids with cancer could enjoy the game.
According to City of Hope National Medical Center, nearly 100,000 children younger than 15 die from cancer worldwide. That is almost 250 children a day.
“The whole purpose behind Brooke’s Blossoms is to raise money and awareness for these kids,” Ginger Kemp said. “The organization sends all the money raised to research for childhood cancer specifically. The treatment they use now is made for adults, and we hope that one day they will develop a ‘kid friendly’ treatment option.”
Brooke and mother, Jessica, started the organization shortly after Brooke’s diagnosis.
Brooke’s Blossoms’ mission is to encourage and empower children to get involved to bring awareness and to raise money for research.
“So far the organization has raised $200,000 in donations,” Hester said. “The volunteers have been amazing and are a major part of the organization. While I was in the hospital with Brooke they kept the organization going and continued making Blossoms in my absence. They have been amazing.”
Sadly, Brooke lost her battle to cancer on June 26. Her mother is continuing the organization in honor of Brooke. To get involved or to donate visit the Brooke’s Blossoms website at www.BrookesBlossoms.org.