Playing 4 Hope unites MU football with kids who have illnesses

5 months 4 weeks 1 day ago October 30, 2016 Oct 30, 2016 Sunday, October 30 2016 Sunday, October 30, 2016 6:24:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
By: Austin Hough, KOMU Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA — A Columbia organization is bringing together the Missouri football team and children who have illnesses.

"Playing 4 Hope," a non-profit organization, has been working with the MU football team and the MU Women and Children's Hospital to unite one player with a young cancer patient before every home football game this season.

"It's a wonderful partnership. Our kids really look forward to these visits," said MU Women and Children's Hospital Child Life coordinator Merideth Lehman. "They get this really amazing smile, and to see that happen is amazing. I've seen kids who are very quiet and having a lot of challenges in the hospital light up when that visit happens."

So far, Charles Harris, Brock Bondurant, Josh Moore, Jake Trump, Jake Hurrel, and Ish Witter have all visited children at the hospital, with more expected to visit in the coming weeks.

The organization was founded by Haley Ennis, who wanted to find a way to connect athletes with people battling cancer, specifically children.

The inspiration for "Playing 4 Hope" was Ennis' grandmother, Donna Joste, who had lung cancer for nine years. When Ennis played soccer at Missouri Valley College, she would wear a wristband with the words "I love you more.". She would kiss it before every game she played to honor her grandmother.

"I wanted to give a chance for athletes to have that feeling," Ennis said. "And, with children, I've always wanted to do something to inspire them. So, it just seemed right."

Joste lost her nine-year battle with cancer in October.

Homecoming week was the first week after her passing that Ennis and "Playing 4 Hope" held an event.

"This is definitely my favorite week of Playing 4 Hope just because it's the week that speaks to her," Ennis said. "Not only was it Homecoming, and the great things that come out of it, but its the connection we have to show for her. She'd be proud."

Witter, who participated during Homecoming week, also has a connection to cancer. His mother passed away from breast cancer when he was 10-years old, leaving him with his dad and brother.

"Knowing I can do something to change a kid's life or maybe help them fight through it even more is pretty cool," Witter said. "This time of the month definitely has me thinking about my mom more and about the kids out there that are fighting through it."

Missouri head football coach Barry Odom said outreach like this is what makes being an athlete at the university special.

"There's so many opportunities that you have during that window of three or four or five years to make a difference in your own life and in someone else's life," Odom said. "And any chance that we get to have an opportunity to be around, especially kids, in our community and make a difference. As a student athlete, you can be one of the greatest ambassadors for your university."

"Playing 4 Hope" looks to continue connecting kids and players together for many years to come.

Lehman said, "I see it really growing and I think there's an opportunity to make an impression on more children."

More News

Grid
List
ASHLAND — Search and rescue crews found a woman in Cedar Creek this afternoon after a kayaking accident. She was... More >>
2 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 11:20:00 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A Missouri woman paralyzed by Lou Gehrig's disease isn't letting any limitations from the incurable disease... More >>
5 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 8:45:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — New Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' involved and sometimes aggressive leadership style is getting mixed reviews from... More >>
5 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 8:41:12 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — Stephens College fashion design, marketing, management and communication students hosted the 73rd annual student design fashion show, called... More >>
6 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 8:12:00 PM CDT in News
FULTON — The city of Fulton is teaming up with William Woods University Chemistry Professor Joe Kyger to figure out... More >>
6 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 8:09:23 PM CDT in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY — First responders rescued three families from their homes in Callaway County Saturday during floods that swept through... More >>
6 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 7:47:00 PM CDT in News
FULTON — Emergency officials responded to a fatal crash near the intersection of State Route O and State Route UU... More >>
8 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 5:23:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — Despite non-ideal weather conditions, people gathered at MU Saturday afternoon as a part of a nationwide climate change... More >>
9 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 4:46:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY — Ever wonder what to do with your unused prescription drugs? The annual 'Drug Take Back Day' helps... More >>
10 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 3:37:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — Police officers responded to an armed robbery at Check Into Cash Saturday afternoon. According to a release... More >>
10 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 3:27:00 PM CDT in News
MID-MISSOURI — Flooding caused road closures on Saturday. KOMU 8 News viewers shared photos and videos of what they saw.... More >>
11 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 2:31:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — The Boone County Office of Emergency Management has reported numerous road closures due to flooding Saturday. ... More >>
12 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 1:32:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Gov. Eric Greitens has agreed to pay a penalty to the state Ethics Commission for failing... More >>
15 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 10:50:00 AM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Gov. Eric Greitens has bought a lakeside house in a resort community west of St. Louis.... More >>
17 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 9:14:38 AM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The maternal grandmother of a 7-year-old Kansas boy whose remains were found in a pigsty... More >>
17 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 9:09:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — A free carnival-style event Saturday aims to combine fun with education about childhood safety and accident prevention. The... More >>
18 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 7:44:00 AM CDT in News
FULTON — Equestrian students at William Woods University have the unique opportunity to learn from a living legend April 28-30.... More >>
20 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 5:53:00 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — According to a Columbia Police Department press release, officers arrested a suspect wanted by the St. Louis Police... More >>
22 hours ago April 29, 2017 Apr 29, 2017 Saturday, April 29 2017 Saturday, April 29, 2017 4:12:00 AM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 47°
3am 57°
4am 58°
5am 58°
6am 60°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

2:00a
Paid Program
2:30a
Paid Program
3:00a
Paid Program
1:00a
Elementary
3:00a
Paid Program
3:30a
Paid Program

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Little Big Shots
8:00p
Chicago Justice
9:00p
Shades of Blue
6:00p
Dark Blue
8:00p
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld