Monday, December 11News That Matters

BYU women's tennis team raising awareness for good cause

PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Ewing Sarcoma is a rare form of pediatric bone cancer. Three years ago, it claimed the life of University of Tennessee tennis star Sean Karl.

BYU sophomore tennis player Katie Fitt went to the same high school as Karl in Tennessee, and got to know him pretty well.

“It was just kind of amazing to see how he was so positive,” Fitt said. “Every time you talked to him about going through cancer, he just has the best attitude.”

“He was just like any other child, any other kid,” said Sean’s father, Mike. “He played all kinds of sports, he was super athletic, he was super competitive.”

After he passed away in 2014 at the age of 20, Sean’s parents started the Sean Karl Foundation to help raise awareness and funding for this rare form of cancer.

Sean’s parents issued a fun challenge to different tennis teams. They called it, Juggle 4 Life, and the BYU women’s team accepted the challenge.

“His parents reached out to me and kind of challenged us so that we could juggle here at BYU,” Fitt said.

“The idea behind the Juggle 4 Life is kind of like the ALS bucket challenge,” said Sean’s mother, Laurie. “We want to do something fun and we want to bring attention to a very serious cause. I love that it’s working its way across the country over to the west coast. Katie is a great kid. We’re just so appreciative that everybody is spreading the word.”

Juggle 4 Life is catching on around the country, with dozens of collegiate teams posting videos on the internet. 

It really hit home for BYU women’s tennis head coach Lauren Jones-Spencer and sister, sophomore tennis player Mayci, whose cousin Rowan is a two-time survivor of Ewing Sarcoma.

“She showed us a video in one of our team meetings about Sean and his cancer,” Jones-Spencer said. “It was really unique that it was the same cancer that my cousin had.”

“I love hearing about these kinds of things because being someone that had something like Ewing Sarcoma,” Rowan said. “These things don’t really happen for my type of cancer. I think there’s a lack of understanding, a lack of funding. So it’s really cool to know that my cousin is helping do something like this.”

“I think it’s awesome that we can show the impact of one person,” said Mayci. “We can show how his legacy can keep moving on. Three years later, it’s still making a huge impact around the community.”

“If we can help save somebody, somewhere down the road, that’s what we want to do,” said Mike.

To donate to help fight Ewing Sarcoma pediatric bone cancer, click here.

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