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Team Will

Apr 29, 2014 12:33PM, Published by Style, Categories: In Print, Community, Today


Back: Brian Williams, Becky Woodall and Jonathon Weast; Middle: Kaden Woodall and Tina McCardle; Front: Ella Woodall – Photo by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group



Kaden Woodall was 10 days old when he started chemotherapy for bilateral retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the retina that affects nearly 300 children in the U.S. annually. The past four years have found him in and out of remission, a battle his mother, Rebecca, understands all too well as a survivor of childhood cancer. “Kaden literally means ‘fighter’ and we had no idea how ironic our name choice would end up being,” she says. “It can be a daunting task to try and manage the daily routines of life while navigating the emotional and financial stress childhood cancer can place on a family.”

In June, Rebecca and her husband, Conrad, will embark on a cross-country journey with Team Will, a Sacramento-based community of cyclists dedicated to raising awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research and supportive services. The organization’s signature “Go the Distance” ride will see volunteers visiting hospitals and participating in community rallies throughout 13 states with a goal of raising $125,000. For their part, the Woodalls hope that sharing their story along the way will bring comfort to others. “The organization is bringing families and communities together to support these children as they fight for their life,” they explain. “Their challenging endeavor…is an inspiring and motivating act to show others that we have to actively participate in our community’s welfare.”

Executive Director Ken Scarberry co-founded the organization in honor of William, the son of a family friend who died of a rare and aggressive form of cancer when he was just 17 months old. In 2006, Scarberry and his fellow cyclists raised $60,000 for CureSearch for Childhood Cancer with their inaugural coast-to-coast ride. “That trip changed my life forever,” he says. “I realized that little Will’s family wasn’t alone and there were thousands of children in the battle for their lives.”

Just two years later, the group traveled to Washington, D.C., and successfully lobbied for the Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act. This year’s ride will honor Kaden and dozens of other Team Will Heroes, a group of children nominated by friends and family for their courage in the face of heartbreaking odds. “I’ve seen the pain and fear of families that are dealing with this disease,” Scarberry says. “I’ve come to accept that I can bring hope to families just by showing that a stranger cares for them and walk away a new-found friend to them.”

Much like Scarberry, Rourke and Jessica Ann Adams have a deeply personal connection to the cause. Their daughter, Eden, died in 2008 following a four-year battle with neuroblastoma. That same year, they discovered Team Will in Washington, D.C., while supporting CureSearch at the Capitol. This summer, their son Riley will ride in memory of his sister and her fellow Heroes.

“[It] will always be more to us than a cancer organization,” they share. “They’ve given our son a way to give back to children in the same situation his sister once was in, and we are so proud of his association with the organization.” •

For more information, visit teamwillcharity.org.


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