By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/20/10
For one special evening, the Springfield-Delco boys’ lacrosse team put down their sticks and pads and sat down to sewing machines to make a brighter day for ill children.
On Thursday the entire Cougar varsity team and most of its JV squad – 40 players in all – made nearly 100 colorful pillow cases for sick children as part of a service project arranged through Newtown Square’s Bill Brady, the creator of the Evanfest Lacrosse Festival.
Brady and his wife, Patrice, a professional sewer who makes window treatments and uses her basement as an office, befriended Wayne’s Cindy Kerr several years ago when their children were undergoing treatments for bone cancer. Evan Brady passed away in 2005 and Ryan Kerr, who was four years younger, passed away three years ago, but both families continue to work tirelessly for their causes.
In 2002 Kerr created ConKerr Cancer, an organization that makes and gathers colorful pillow cases to give to chronically ill children. The organization has delivered more than 160,000 homemade pillow cases through over 100 chapters around North America and South Africa in hopes of giving children something personal to have and hold while undergoing treatments.
Ryan Kerr, who played lacrosse, was buddied up with Evan Brady, a lacrosse standout at Malvern Prep, when the two met. Brady served as a mentor to help Ryan deal with the treatments and mental aspects of having to live with cancer. Since then, the families have developed a bond.
That bond spurred the Bradys to help ConKerr Cancer in any way possible. He and Patrice have brought in sports teams (Malvern Prep lacrosse and Archbishop Carroll girls’ basketball) as well as church and youth organizations to their home for years. The participants also donate a little money, which is used to purchase new fabrics and equipment so the next group can make more pillow cases.
So far, the Brady family has donated 2,000 pillow cases made in their basement to the organization. Most of these pillow cases go to Children’s Hospital patients, Bill Brady said.
On Thursday, Springfield-Delco – known for being one of the top-rated teams in the Philadelphia area – broke the record for most participants at one time at the Brady home. The team also came last year just before the season began.
“We did it last year; it’s for such a good cause and it’s a great team bonding experience,” said Springfield-Delco senior goalie Austin Kaut, who will play next year at Penn State University. “The last time we did sewing was in home ec in middle school, but it wasn’t as fun as this.
“We’re all having a good time laughing and joking, but it’s for a cause. It gives us a break from practicing and allows us to cool down a little while helping out kids.”
Cougars coach Michael Friel, a longtime friend of the Brady family, said the experience was valuable in many ways.
“This is great,” he said. “We get more out of this in the form of camaraderie and it’s a great cause. Bill and Patrice are great people. I remember us doing it last year we really gained from it. The guys were looking forward to it again and they kept asking me when we were coming back.”
Evanfest has helped raise $250,000, all of which goes directly to families that have a child that has a life-threatening disease.
To learn more about ConKerr Cancer, go to http://www.conkerrcancer.org/