Cancer’s presence is a part of life and a familiar force in the world, but there’s nothing more shocking and scary than the disease claiming a young child.
Kidney cancer took Faith Anderson from her family’s embrace in five short months after diagnosis; Faith was one of two twin girls born in May of 2008, showing an athletic presence and a natural ability to fill the room with energy before passing away three months ahead of her sixth birthday.
Parents Ryan and Lilly Anderson and daughters Grace and Rosie were surrounded with love and support from their southern California neighbors and friends. Of course, the healing is not done, but guided by their religious beliefs the Andersons are hoping to honor Faith’s life by reaching out to others.
One route for that is the annual Faith Strong Charity fastpitch softball event. This event will take place on January 12-13, 2019 at Big League Dreams Chino Hills & West Covina.
Support from the community was strong enough to launch the first Faith Strong benefit tournament in 2014, just a handful of months after Faith lost her battle. Response was strong within the softball community, and the event ended up using extra fields at a nearby high school.
“It’s been a long road. In some ways, we’ve turned the corner in realizing that life goes on, and we feel the need to push ahead for our two girls and keep life as normal as possible,” said Ryan, a teacher at Woodcrest Christian School who has worked Triple Crown fastpitch events in site support for nearly 12 years. “We’ve been able with the tournament to reach out to others who are hurting even as we know we aren’t completely healed and may never be.
“One thing you learn in this is how other people are going through similar things, and that helps you not feel so much like God is pointing a finger at you or punishing you. It’s all about how you bounce back, because that defines who you are.”
In 2017, Big League Dreams cleared out two facilities for the event, and by reducing game fees it created an immediate boost in the money organizers can clear. Umpires waive their fee for the first game they work each day, and the entire span of staff support (vendors, field workers, site crew, etc.) volunteers their labor for the weekend.
“We have everybody on about a three-or four-hour shift, and we just cycle through,” said TCS softball event director Travis Cotsenmoyer. “Everyone knows each other, and we all love Ryan’s family and are aware of their situation and what they went through. Everybody wants to help, but there’s also an awareness that it’s nice to show your face and support the cause.”
Proceeds from the tournament in Year 1 went straight to the Anderson family, to help them deal with the onerous costs of medical treatment for Faith. For this event, resources will flow to several landing spots:
As one can imagine, the first Faith Strong event was a powerful moment for all involved.
“It was very emotional. I was barely able to attend, and that’s all I could hope to do, just be there,” Ryan said. “To be able to show my gratitude to all the people who had reached out to us was important, and the whole thing was amazing. Teams that I didn’t know personally were sharing stories, players wore T-shirts in honor of Faith, and this one group of girls made headbands for the tournament and then presented them to our two girls.
“We’re believers in the Bible; God gives us blessings, and the trials we face are to help us grow. I know life isn’t fair, and I’ve known it since an early age having lost my parents early. We’ve tried to turn this into something else – God, what can I do to learn and how can I help other people?”
Emotions still churn in a world where the bedroom and backyard and dinner table feel profoundly empty. But from that tragic, dark space the Anderson family is moving on, and they are trying hard to step back into the light.
You can donate to this powerful cause in a couple of ways:
Take your check made out to Faith Anderson Cancer Fund and take it to any Chase Bank in the country – Chase will deposit it directly into that account.
Or, mail your check to Triple Crown’s SoCal office:
Triple Crown Sports
14427 Meridian Parkway, Suite F
Riverside, CA 92518
Attn: Faith Anderson Cancer Fund