Benefit kickball tournament draws hundreds

July 23, 2014
Colby Simkovic, 12, of Waynesburg takes a big kick at the Kicking Cancer’s Butt with Colby’s Stars Kickball Tournament. - Photo submitted by Carrie Simkovic

WAYNESBURG – In what has become an ultimate display of paying it forward, the family and friends of 12-year old Colby Simkovic, of Waynesburg, have held benefits from 2011 to 2014 to help others who have some form of cancer.

This annual act of kindness started after Colby was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. The event, Dancing with Colby’s Stars, was held in 2010 to help Colby’s family defray costs as they traveled back and forth to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The following year, the benefit continued with Colby’s Stars joining to help others battling the disease. Currently, Colby is happy, healthy, and cancer-free.

This past week, the Kicking Cancer’s Butt Kickball Tournament with Colby’s Stars was held at the Rices Landing Athletic Fields. It exceeded all expectations of those behind it, according to Colby’s mother, Carrie Bedilion Simkovic.

“This is one of the great things about living in Greene County. You take the good with the bad, but when the bad does happen, the community comes together when they need to,” said Carrie. “Our community came forward to help us at our lowest point. It is very humbling to me to think that this small event with maybe 100 people then blossomed into something that, even in the rain, had 500 people show up to support it.”

The kickball tournament was held in support of Janelle Burkett, 10, of Dry Tavern, and Chris Dugan, 44, of Waynesburg. Burkett recently completed her final treatment for a tumor at the base of her skull, while Dugan is currently receiving treatment for colorectal cancer.

There were 240 signed up to play in the tournament with close to 500 actually there at the fields in various capacities as cheerleaders, volunteers and spectators.

Carrie said there was some concern about the rain that swept the area the night before and the light rain called for during the day of the event.

“I said, ‘We’ve controlled everything until now. We can’t control this. People are going to look to us for our attitudes and we need to be positive.’ You couldn’t help but have fun. The fields were muddy and that just made it more fun,” Carrie said. “I told them, ‘Cancer doesn’t care if it rains. The weather’s not fair and neither is cancer.’”

In 2011, Colby’s Stars danced for Daniel Bradmon of Rices Landing who is fighting myelodysplasia, a pre-cancerous blood disorder. The following year, the dance benefited Jordan Thistlethwaite, also of Rices Landing, who was battling leukemia. In 2013, it was held for Addalyne Morrison of Jefferson who was undergoing treatment for a Wilm’s tumor.

Over the past three years, Dancing for Colby’s Stars has raised close to $20,000. This year alone the figure was $10,000 from the kickball tournament. Keeping with the “star” element of the event, the referees for the games were some of the area’s retired high school athletic coaches. Dugan is the Jefferson-Morgan girls’ softball coach.

Carrie said the events will continue each year through the support of her family and the growing circle of friends from families helped by the annual campaign.

“I hope every family jumps on the bandwagon and pays it forward. But, my biggest dream is that one day, we don’t have to hold these fundraisers because there is no more cancer,” she said.

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.

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