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By Greg Johnson
Members of the Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee recently got a chance to see how much joy their fundraising can create when they met 13-year-old Seth Kussow, who was granted a wish in January to attend the NFL’s Pro Bowl in Honolulu.
In spring 2011, Kussow was diagnosed with kidney cancer in the form of a Wilms’ tumor. The disease is hard to detect early on because if the tumor is on one kidney, the other kidney compensates and no one knows there is a problem until the cancer progresses to a more dangerous level.
Playing lacrosse actually helped doctors discover that Kussow, who attended the summit with his father Ted, mother Cheryl and younger brother Nathan, had the tumor.
It was discovered because Kussow received a blow to his abdomen in a lacrosse game. Normally, the blow wouldn’t have caused him much pain, but Kussow said he was sore the rest of this contest. The pain persisted the next few days, but there was no bruising.
Kussow played in two more games, but the pain only intensified, which led to him being taken to the doctor to found out the cause of his discomfort. A CT-scan revealed the tumor, but luckily it was caught at an early stage.
He underwent months of chemotherapy treatment that ended last September. Kussow regularly has checkups to make sure the disease doesn’t reoccur, but the recovery was a tough road.
“Thursday nights were the toughest, because I had my treatments on Fridays,” said Kussow, who has been told that patients in his circumstance have a 95 percent survival rate. “I would think about the treatments a lot on those days. Then, I knew I wouldn’t be feeling too good over the weekend after the treatments.”
Talking about sports was always a way to escape his situation, and his Make-A-Wish request gave him something to look forward to.
While in Hawaii with his family, including older sister Grace, he was able to meet the best players from the 2011 NFL season. He was particularly interested meeting Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson after one of the practices.
“The Indianapolis Colts are my favorite team, but the Packers are a close second,” said Kussow, who lives in Zionsville, Ind. “It was pretty cool. I know I probably would never get a chance to do something like this without Make-A-Wish.”
The Division II SAAC is in the ninth year of its sponsorship with Make-A-Wish. Last year, the group raised more than $400,000 for the organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. In the nine years, Division II student-athletes have raised $2.4 million for the charity.