The Kevin Meyer Memorial Foundation
5323 Bundleflower Court
Naperville, IL 60564
630-904-4893
info@kevinsgift.org


Kevin was leading a normal childhood experiencing all that a teenage boy would be expected to enjoy. His interests in athletics, school and hanging out with his friends and family were all routine for a kid his age.

Things switched from normal and routine for Kevin and his family dramatically when they went to have his stomach checked after he thought he had pulled muscles while training. It was July of 2003 that the Meyers faced the first challenge as they learned it was not pulled muscles but instead tumors that had caused the pain in Kevin’s stomach. They sprang into action right away and within days Kevin was in surgery to remove the tumors and hoped for the best outcome possible. As the results were made known they were not what had been hoped for and marked the beginning of their fight. Kevin had been diagnosed desmoplastic small round blue cell tumors, a very rare and aggressive form of cancer and was now facing the toughest competitor he’d ever faced.

From the very beginning Kevin didn’t complain about his situation or cry “why me?” After learning of the aggressiveness of this cancer and the long difficult treatments that lie ahead, he simply asked “when do we start?”

All that Kevin wanted to do was to have a chance at beating cancer. He was willing to do whatever it would take to solve this problem as long as it would pay off at some point in the future.

At the beginning of this battle there was an outpouring of support for Kevin, Chris, Keith and Danny by his teammates, coaches, friends, neighbors and family as those close to them organized a benefit to help with their many expenses and associated treatments that would not be covered by insurance.

As people began to drop off their donations of items to be auctioned at one of the organizers homes, their living room and dining room were filled wall to wall and floor to ceiling with this outpouring of human spirit.

Only having a short period of time to plan for a benefit with this kind of significance organizers were concerned that they could pull it all together but people just kept coming through. Another example of this human spirit was evidenced when a request went out for baskets for the benefit…within two days there were over 100 baskets delivered. This benefit was a way for people to express how they felt and a way for people to take action in showing their support of Kevin and his family and the battle they were facing.

Hoping to have up to 150 people in attendance for the dinner and auction that November evening everyone’s expectations were exceeded by having over 400 in attendance and reluctantly having to turn people away who wanted to attend because there was not enough room. This was the only night that Keith or Chris were not in the hospital with Kevin out of his 100+ days spent there but family stepped up to fill in while they shared their appreciation for the outpouring of love and support for them and Kevin at the benefit.

Kevin missed his eighth grade year as he went through surgery, radiation treatments, chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant and then physical therapy to regain his strength with the hope of returning to school and being with his friends.

Kevin kept pace with his homework assignments but still managed to improve his batting average and winning streaks in his video games too. He appreciated the visitors and encouragement but never associated himself with the disease that had struck him. As a cancer patient he was given a wish through the Make-A- Wish Foundation but never wanted to claim his wish. He said that those were for the kids that were really sick and he didn’t want anyone doing something for him or to remember him just because he had cancer. He just wanted to be a recognized for being a good student, strong athlete and a good kid.

You all commented how particular Kevin was of looking just right. He started out with his mushroom haircut and then graduated to hair gel and spiked bangs and then added the cologne too. With the chemotherapy came the hair loss but with Kevin like everything else he just took it in stride. He’d greet his visitors and make them feel right at ease by lifting up his hat and rubbing his head then give them his Patented smile.

Kevin’s smile…many of you commented about how he could light up a room, he could say it all with that look and his smile without saying a word you knew what he meant. This was the same smile that he would give his parents and coaches after he would successfully achieve something during a game that his dad or coach were pushing him on at practice or in those one on one rides with his dad to and from practice. He wasn’t the kind of kid that wouldn’t pound his chest, point to the sky or jump up and down after he achieved something good…he’d simply make eye contact and give them his look and then that smile as if to tell them “I told you’d I’d get it” or “you didn’t think I was paying attention.”

As a player you’ve said he was fun to coach because he always gave 110% effort and he had that special something you cannot teach…it was passion. As a teammate you’ve said he was fun to be around at practices and at games no matter what the outcome. Kevin was competitive and loved to win but it wasn’t the most important thing to him about sports. He loved being a part of a team and being challenged by his coaches. You coaches loved coaching him because he could take what ever you dished out and would always respond.

Another example of Kevin never complaining and doing his best came from his little league coach. His coach made a trip to the pitchers mound during a game where Kevin was pitching and they were getting beat pretty bad. As his coach approached the mound Kevin started to hand him the ball and said “I’ll bet you want me to come out of the game?” His coach said “not at this point since we’re getting beat so bad I just wanted to make sure you’re OK with staying in?” Kevin gave him that smile and with a twinkle in his eye, he said “I’ll do my best coach” as he put the ball back in his mitt.

One of the words that many of you used to describe Kevin was persistence. No matter how tough things got for him throughout his treatments he always bounced back and kept focused on the future.

Vince Lombardi probably said it best when he said:

It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get up again.

Vince Lombardi

Kevin kept getting knocked down and he kept getting back up during this difficult first round of treatments. His goal was to return to school for his freshman year but would only be able to do that after a lot of difficult treatments, hard physical work, keeping pace with his studies and the determination to succeed.

Things looked like they were paying off after the first round of these intense treatments as the cancer was in remission and no detectable signs of its presence. Kevin was now able to return to school for his freshman year at Neuqua Valley a goal he had set for himself at the outset of this battle.

He returned to school not to coast or have people feel sorry for him but instead he continued to challenge himself not just picking up where he left off, but by pushing himself academically, taking honor level classes and earning high honors for his grades.

During his freshman year he had a doctor’s excuse for gym class that prevented him from participating in tumbling, wrestling and line dancing which he didn’t really seem to mind but when a teacher saw him after school participating in intramural basketball, his favorite sport, he was busted and sent back to gym class with the rest of you in line dancing bowing to your partners….

Kevin wasn’t able to return to participate in sports competitively but he and his dad continued to follow his teammates and attend games when they could to offer their support. He still never once complained or felt sorry for himself in any way. He was grateful to be with his friends again and back to just being a kid.

Unfortunately his clean bill of health was not as long lasting as everyone had hoped when his cancer came back again this spring with more tumors and a limited number of therapies available to fight it off after the intense and difficult first round had taken its toll on Kevin’s body.

Despite the return of his cancer Kevin still remained focused on the future and on getting better and not complaining at all. It was difficult for him to attend classes regularly this year but he kept up with his studies and plans for his future. His guidance counselors and teachers would comment on his strength and how he was an inspiration to others.

Another life experience that Kevin was able to enjoy this year was turning 16 in August and getting his driver’s license. He enjoyed picking up his friends and driving them places since he was one of the first ones in his class to get his license. He also enjoyed surprising many of you as he’d build up his strength and show up at Ribfest, the annual Labor Day block party and Neuqua football games this fall.

One of the best examples of Kevin’s optimism and focus on his future was through his Spanish class this year. His dad would help him with his lessons but Keith was especially challenged with Spanish because he’d never studied it as a student. When Keith suggested that Kevin drop Spanish for something else that he could help him with Kevin quickly replied, “top colleges require four years of a foreign language and I don’t want to take Spanish in college.” So Keith kept on with the Spanish lessons.

Abraham Lincoln is credited with the following statement that truly defines Kevin’s stick-to-it-tive-ness:

I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.

Abraham Lincoln

Kevin was only able to attend a few weeks of school this fall and was starting to get too weak to make it out of the house. He was sleeping most of the day continuing to have his body broken down by cancer but again never felt sorry for himself or complained. Keith and Chris had hospice coming by to check on things but were pretty much taking care of Kevin on their own.

In Kevin’s final days he found a way to say thank you to both his parents in a very personal and individual way. As Kevin became weaker and weaker from the cancer he needed help getting to and from his bedroom so his parents would carry him on their backs while he would put his arms around their necks to hold on as best he could.

One of the last things he said to his dad took place while Keith was carrying Kevin back to his room and Kevin started to slip Keith reassured Kevin that he was not going to fall by saying “Don’t worry Kevin I’ve got you”…and Kevin responded by saying “you always have Dad.”….

After Chris brought him back to his bed another time Kevin found a way to say thank you to her without having to say a word. He wrapped his arms around his mom as tight as he could and gave her one last kiss on her cheek.

Treasure the love you receive above all. It will survive long after your gold and good health have vanished.

Og Mandino

As parents we typically have 18 years with our children under our roofs to teach them all that they need to know about life as they set out on their own. Chris and Keith you’ve accomplished so much more in just 16 years with Kevin and you prepared him well for his journey.

The Bible also reminds us in Psalms 127:3 – Children are a gift from God; they are his reward.

Keith and Chris thank you for sharing your gift (Kevin) with all of us as our lives are all richer by knowing him.

 

 
 
 

 

The Kevin Meyer Memorial Foundation 5323 Bundleflower Court Naperville, IL 60564
630-904-4893 info@kevinsgift.org www.kevinsgift.org