All Star: Kingston
Kingston was a happy-go-lucky infant, and loved exploring everything that was around him, until he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) at only 11 months old. AML starts in the bone marrow - causing immature cells to build - and can become very harmful if not treated quickly.
“It felt like someone sucked the life out of me,” recalled Kingston’s mom, Michelle. “I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was at lost for words.”
Kingston completed the standard 6-month course of treatment but relapsed in August of 2014, just a few months after treatment. He started chemo again, but in November of 2014 it was determined that he had relapsed a second time. Due to the aggressive nature of his leukemia, Kingston received a bone marrow transplant in December 2014, just prior to his second birthday.
In the meantime, single mom Michelle worked to save up as much as she could so that she could be with her son during the transplant, and for the first few months while his immune system got stronger and he recovered at home.
"Pinky Swear helped me in our time of need by paying the rent to keep a roof over my son's head. They also sent us a $200 gift card for the holidays,” Michelle said.
Now three years old, Kingston is doing well – although still receiving treatment at Levine Children’s Hospital – where he is isolated from other children since he has no immunizations, and a weakened immune system.
Pinky Swear had been able to provide emotional support through building community around Kingston, too. On March 18, 2016, the Charlotte, North Carolina-area Lake Norman Soccer Club (LNSC) hosted an amazing family night with Playing for Pinky Swear in All-Star Kingston’s honor. Athletes came out as a sea of orange shirts to play and to raise funds for kids with cancer and their families with Playing for Pinky Swear. Ten boys’ teams, and two girls’ teams played simultaneously after a moving ceremony, which included the presentation of Kingston’s very own LNSC shirt and Pinky Swear medal. Michelle made a speech about her experience parenting a child with cancer and giving thanks to Pinky Swear for all their help.
“In a matter of hours our life changed just like that. Your life is no longer yours. It's a battle that only the strong can survive. We were able to beat cancer - that made our bond that much closer as a mother and son,” she explained.
Kingston loved every minute of the event and wanted in on all the action, even grabbing the microphone to say, “Thank You,” before taking shots on goal. An estimated 700+ people were in attendance, including over 350 players. To date, LNSC has raised over $3,500 for Pinky Swear, and is currently working with individual teams to sign up for the upcoming 2nd Annual Pinky Swear Kids Triathlon in Davidson, North Carolina.
Coach Trish Hughes, the coordinator of the Pinky Swear event, explained, “The importance of these events and collaboration with Pinky Swear is invaluable to the LNSC family and raises our reach and reputation as an organization. We not only want to produce elite soccer players, we are fully committed to providing our young citizens an opportunity to give back to the community of Mooresville and surrounding areas. By participating in these events, we are providing important life lessons in an environment that instills a culture of fellowship and strong citizenship!”