On My Team16: A startup non profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives and experiences of children battling cancer through sports.

Just take a second, and imagine this: It’s the bottom of the 9th inning in the National Championship game. The underdog, the 12th ranked team, is up by just 1 run. There are runners on 2nd and 3rd, with two outs. The pitchers total pitch count is over 120 pitches; he is exhausted, and has thrown to just about every batter in the lineup. The number 3 hitter is up. First pitch is thrown…ball one. The pitcher wipes the sweat from his brow. Focuses on his catcher, and throws pitch number 2. Strike. The coach is seen pacing in the dugout. Pitch number 3. Ball. His teammates cheer him on. “You can do this”, “you got it” they say. Pitch number 4. Long foul ball. Strike 2. You can hear the sigh of relief from the stands, the pitcher looks at his coach and tells him that “he’s got it – he can do it”. Suddenly, the crowd stands. They begin clapping and cheering on the pitcher. Here comes pitcher number 5. Strike 3…the batter falls to the ground with anger, and the dog pile celebration on top of the pitcher begins – the underdog, the “weak”, the 12th ranked team did it…they won and are Champions.

Now, take another second, and imagine this: It’s the 3rd year of cancer treatment for a pediatric oncology patient. They have been infected with the deadliest disease and they have been taking every medicine possible to cure themselves; they are exhausted. But…the day has come, and they made it to their final cancer treatment. They enter their hospital room, and the doctor checks their vitals, one last time. They enter the surgery room, and the doctor puts them under, one last time. Their spine is injected with chemotherapy, one last time. Their mom looks to them and mouths “you can do this”, one last time. They mouth back “I know I can”, one last time. Then, they enter the hallway, and stand next to the bell that reads “Promise me you’ll remember you are stronger than you think, and braver than you believe”, and with all their family and friends around them, they ring that bell, and they are deemed cancer free. They did it – the underdog, the “weak”, did it. They won and they are a Champion.

According to the TV show 60 minutes and Vanity Fair magazine, 90% of Americans watch sports. It is a big part of our daily lives, even if we aren’t the ones competing. Imagine how inspiring it would be for a 13 year old cancer patient to turn on their TV, flip to ESPN, and see an athlete competing but also raising money for their hospital? Or for them to attend their local high school soccer game and watch as the goalie makes 3 saves in a 5 minute span, instantly raising $30 for the hospital that is saving their life? We are combining the strongest and most determined group of individuals into one. Athletes might be competing against a rival, and the children are battling a deadly disease, but that doesn’t mean that the two can’t help one another. We want to bring motivation and inspiration to the forefront of our non-profit organization.

The Inspiration behind OMT16:
OMT16 was inspired by Jack Sheridan, a young baseball pitcher from Syracuse, New York who was diagnosed with Leukemia his sophomore year of High School. Jack never thought he was going to be able to pitch again, let alone survive. The threat of having baseball taken away from him really proved how much the sport and the ability to compete athletically meant to him. Now, three and a half years of treatment later, Jack is starting his freshman year at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. Jack is also a member of the baseball team, continuing both his academic and his athletic career. Jack Survived because of his doctors and the quality of treatment he received at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. OMT16 wants to give other children battling cancer, the opportunity to do the exact same.

What is our mission?
The mission of OMT16 is to make sure that every child impacted by cancer feels as if they are a part of something bigger and gets the care and treatment they deserve. They are on OUR team and together WE are all fighting their battle.

How do we raise money?
Fans sponsor their favorite team, athlete or coach and donate based on how they perform athletically. It is basically a Fantasy League for charity!

Where does your money go and how do we live out our mission?
Our goal at OMT16 is to enrich the lives of children battling cancer, who’ve had their childhoods stolen from them. We want to bring back as much of a “kid-like” experience as possible and create a positive experience in the midst of their toughest battle. Some examples of what the money will go towards are as follows: athletes giving talks, sports related games for the hospitals, warmer blankets, comfy pillows and better beds, artists performing, goodie bags, board games, creative classes (knitting, pottery), a “pen pal” system between children at different hospitals as well as children and professional athletes, arts and crafts, and more! Funds raised are solely dedicated to making children’s lives better during their stay in hospital – we are returning their childhood.

One thing that is often forgotten, in between the hair loss, the 20 pills a night, the chemotherapy, the inability to eat, the pale skin and so much more…is the fact that yes, these kids are cancer patients…but at the end of the day they are still just kids. With the help of athletes and raving fans all over the country, OMT16 serves as a reminder that yes, if you are a pediatric cancer patient you need to fight like hell to win that battle, but you also are still just a kid, and it is OK to just want to be a kid.

No one should have to pick sitting in a hospital room over playing in the sectional championship baseball game. No one should have to pick laying on the couch at home over going to their high school prom. No one should have to watch their little girl lose all her hair before she turns 8. No one at the age of 16 should have to think about how the medicine they have to take might make them unable to ever have children. No one should have to listen to an announcer say their brothers name and then watch as no one runs onto the field. No one should ever feel like all the butterflies inside of them are dead. No one should have to pick being a cancer patient over being a kid.

Each year approximately 15,700 children under the age of 18 are diagnosed with cancer and sadly 12% of those children will not survive. That means that today alone, in this country, approximately 43 children will be diagnosed. By supporting OMT16, you will help relieve that pain, that suffering, and that loneliness felt by those children and their families. OMT16 creates the “WE” in team.

What are our goals?
OMT16’s short term goals consist of compiling a solid donor base, getting the word out to athletes and teams about getting involved and making the first few donations as impactful as possible. Our long term goals consist of getting professional athletes involved and willing to visit with the children at the hospitals close to them; this gives the children someone to look up to and to follow along with, while they might be stuck in their hospital room for an extended period of time. We hope to donate over $10,000 to pediatric cancer centers in children’s hospitals by November of 2018.