WESTFIELD — Kickers on a football team are either celebrated… or booed: there really is no in-between. It’s one of the toughest, most precise positions on a team – with all eyes on you.
Each kick at Westfield High School varsity football games this season carries even more weight, as each point tallied turns into dollars driven through the uprights of cancer research.
The Senior Shamrock Kicker #9, Caleb King, doesn’t shy from the pressure. He created it, by pledging to kick cancer out of the community he calls home one kick at a time.
“Cancer is one of those things that when everyone thinks about it they automatically assume death. They think the worst,” King said. “I just want to get to the point where we can just say that that disease is just another thing like getting strep throat or something like that… something that we can move past and everyone can live happy in a fulfilled happy life despite a diagnosis.”
Cancer has taken its toll on the Westfield football team, Head Coach Jake Gilbert says the cause has emboldened his team, uniting them as a family.
“We’ve had… some hard battles. We’ve lost some moms to breast cancer. We have a trainer who was with our program last year who’s currently in hospice fighting. We have two cancer survivors on the team right now and our athletic trainer’s fighting cancer as we speak so it’s been really tough on all of us,” Gilbert said. “As a program, we are rallying behind all the kids we’ve had and the parents we’ve had who have fought cancer… so, putting that to practice by raising money through Caleb’s efforts, that’s a great opportunity for us.”
Caleb’s efforts — called “Kick It” — turn points scored on the field into dollars raised through one-time donations or, more importantly, pledges.
“So every point I make kicking either a field goal or extra point turns into whatever they pledged as their dollar amount,” King said. “This is nothing about me. It’s all for just helping those in need and if you have a gift, use it.”
So far he’s used his gift this season to drive home 32 points and raise more than $2,000 which will be donated to the foundation Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which fights to end childhood cancers.
“My passion is in helping others. I mean football is great and I love that, that’s definitely my true passion but just being able to help others and share my gifts and doing whatever I can to help the community around me is a bonus,” King said. “I know I’m very fortunate, whether that’s good health or anything like that, but just to help those in need is what I’m here to do.”
The 18-year-old senior dreams of continuing his place kicking in college but his first focus is on Friday night and helping others in the process.
“I’m a senior now so I try to just lead by example. It doesn’t have to be donating to me… you can set up your own fundraiser, you can donate to other ones, you can just assist with people in your community,” King said. “Just go out there and just try to do your best for the community cause a lot of bad stuff going on in the world and if you can add a little sunshine to it, why not?”
You can find more information on Caleb King’s fundraiser on his website.