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Sorin hosts memorial tournament

Mel Flanagan | Friday, April 29, 2011

Just weeks before graduation, seniors have the opportunity to remember former classmate Kevin Healey this weekend. Healey lost his battle with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, two years ago.

The men of Sorin College will honor Healey Sunday with the first memorial Kick It for Kevin kickball tournament.

Senior Javi Zubizarreta, a close friend of Healey’s, said the idea for the tournament began when Healey’s father contacted him a few months ago.

“He asked us to organize a tournament here at Notre Dame and to make it an ongoing event in honor of Kevin and in support of pediatric cancer research,” he said.

The tournament is also an event for Kick-It, an organization based in Healey’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, that organizes kickball tournaments to raise money for children’s cancer research.

“Kevin’s family has worked with [Kick-It] in the past to organize tournaments in the community and to help raise money,” Zubizarreta said. “His family has raised about $6,000 through kickball tournaments so far.”

All proceeds from Kick-It tournaments benefit CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, an organization that funds the world’s largest pediatric cancer research collaborative, the Children’s Oncology Group.

Despite the efforts of these organizations, Zubizarreta said pediatric research is largely underfunded, contrary to popular belief.

“These fundraising efforts really are very needed,” he said. “There’s so much more that needs to be done to help the patients and their families.”

Sorin vice president Max Maier said the tournament will operate in a round-robin style format in which each team is guaranteed to play at least three games. The winning team, as well as the best-dressed and best-named teams, will receive a trophy, he said.

“You can show up pretty much anytime and still play, and you can sign up that day too,” Maier said. “We allotted time so you can do both Muddy Sunday and the tournament.”

Although Healey arrived at Notre Dame in the midst of his chemotherapy treatment, Zubizarreta said his classmates would never have known Healey was fighting cancer if they were not already aware of his illness.

“He just had this amazing fight, this amazing spirit while he was here,” he said. “He never wanted to talk about his sickness or have any preferential treatment. He just carried on like any other student, going to classes, doing well.”

Zubizarreta said the tournament is especially meaningful for graduating seniors who knew and were close with Healey.

“It’s a way to come together and support a cause Kevin was passionate about and to support him in a way he would enjoy, one last time before we all go our separate ways,” he said.

Maier said Sorin doesn’t have any goals for the tournament this year besides publicizing the event to students.

“We want people to know about it and remember it for next year when it comes up again,” he said. “We really hope to make it an annual event.”

Kick It for Kevin will take place Sunday from 12 to 6 p.m. at Stepan Fields.