EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 5, 2012

Matball tournament raises money for survivor fighting cancer again@headDrop24_bhf:

By Yadira Betances ybetances@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — METHUEN – A couple of hundred of Allison Hawkes’ closest friends showed up this past weekend to give her a boost as she faces another medical challenge.

“Allie,” as she is known to her family and friends, was the guest of honor at the Larry Klimas Memorial Field House at Methuen High, where 18 teams of 10 people participated in a matball tournament to raise money for a recovery fund for her.

Allie, 18, who has already fought three bouts of cancer, is facing another battle having recently been diagnosed with osteosarcoma - a bone cancer in her right tibia.

Christine Hawkes said her daughter will undergo surgery to replace the bone and that two weeks later she will start eight months of treatments.

Matball is similar to kickball where two teams try to score by kicking the ball and running the bases or large mats. The winner is the team with the most runs scored. Current students and Methuen High alumni made up the teams wearing black, yellow, white, blue, red and tie dyed T-shirts.

The game was organized by John Sughrue and John Stackelin, who both work for the Methuen School Department. Members of Students Against Destructive Decisions, SADD joined them in the fundraising effort. Jackie Rubino, SADD advisor said Sughrue, Stackelin and them have been planning the game for several weeks.

She was surprised at the number of people who attended the event.

“It shows how much this community loves Allie,” said Rubino, ninth grade English teacher at Methuen High. “She’s just a sweetheart and wonderful human being. We all hope this makes her life easier.”

Sughrue agreed.

“It’s good when the community comes together to help someone who needs it. When you’re down and out, events like these help lift you up,” Sughrue said.

In addition to her mother, her brother, Jonathan also went to the game.

“This is humbling,” Christine Hawkes said. “It’s also amazing that so many of these people are not current students, yet they are offering so much support.”

Christine Hawkes said she appreciates both the financial and emotional support.

“This is a big help for Allison. She is not part of a school, but they have not left her out and feeling forgotten. They’ve kept her included. It doesn’t make her illness go away, but it makes her feel a lot better,” Christine Hawkes said. “This is a real boost for her.”

Allie was 6 when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma a recurring cancer that grows on nerve cells, which had grown to a stage 4 when it was discovered. It spread to other organs and had pressed into her kidney, which had to be removed during a nine-hour surgery. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment. At 10, doctors found another cancerous tumor which went into remission without surgery.

Allie was diagnosed the third time after finishing the swimming season in 2010 with advanced treatments. While at Methuen High, she continued her studies as well as other sports and was even the co-chair of the Methuen Relay for Life.

Allie admits living with cancer is difficult.

“I’m not able to live my life, go to college or go out,” said Allie, who was to start her freshman year at Wheelock College this fall.

Known for her positive attitude, she quickly added: “It’s amazing. I can’t believe so many people came. Everyone is so supportive.”

“People being there for me, supporting me and telling me that everything is going to be okay keeps me strong,” she said.

This is not the first time Methuen has rallied for Allie and her family. In September, the Methuen School Department raised $3,629 when faculty members and staff at all the schools and administrative offices wore jeans to work for a $5 donation. The Fire Department contributed $500 and the Methuen Police Patrolmen’s Association, $250.

Residents who would like to contribute to the recovery fund, can send them to Allison Hawkes, in care of Methuen Cooperative Bank, 243 Broadway, PO Box 657, Methuen, MA 01844.