"Some women follow their dreams we tackle them."
That's the team slogan for the Keystone Assault Women's Football Team, whose dedicated members obviously take that attitude with them off the football field as well.
This past weekend, Keystone All-American running back and defensive back Katie Runk tackled her dream of helping a hometown boy in his battle against cancer.
Runk, a 2001 Huntingdon High School graduate and multi-sport star, worked to organize a fundraising softball tournament for her cousin, Buddy Steven Morningstar of Jamescreek.
The five-year-old son of a truck-driving father and stay-at-home Mom is fighting Wilms tumor, a cancer of the kidney. Buddy has undergone two rounds of chemo therapy with little progress. Wanting to do something to help, and having participated in another charity softball tournament, cousin Katie decided to hold the Buddy Benefit.
"My sister and I are close to the Morningstars," she said, "and we knew if something happened to Buddy they would struggle. We wanted to do something to help."
In just a month's time, Katie and company sent letters and made phone calls to Huntingdon county businesses, churches and friends; the generous community responded.
Fourteen co-ed softball teams paid their $200 entrance fees and showed up at fields in Huntingdon bright and early in the morning. In spite of weather conditions more typical of football than softball, they battled each other all day on the diamond, playing 27 games in all. Friends who didn't play in the tournament donated sweet treats for a bake sale or simply made their own personal donations.
The tournament championship went to the Mugs and Jugs team, who finished the day undefeated, but the real winner was Buddy Morningstar himself.
The heartfelt effort raised more than six thousand dollars to help the Morningstar family with Buddy's medical expenses. Maybe more importantly, Runk believes, it showed Buddy, his parents, sister and brothers that their community truly cares.
"It was great to see the community pull together to help someone out," she said.
In a world where it's easy to wonder what impact one person can have, an event like this proves that the actions of a single individual can impact many others. Katie probably learned that lesson on the athletic field.
The need of one little boy was recognized by a cousin, who inspired her community into action. Runk set a goal, made a commitment, and made it happen, much like she does when she runs the football for a first down or guards an opposing receiver on the gridiron.
In the battle against cancer in the life of one small boy, Katie Runk and the Jamescreek community are true champions.
Donations continue to be accepted for the Morningstar family at The Buddy Benefit, Rolling Hill Drive, Jamescreek, PA 16657.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Kellie@BedfordCountyChamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.