By Sean Crose
Amir Mansour. Tyson Fury. Tomasz Adamek. Former IBF Cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham has faced his share of notable competition throughout the course of his career. Now, however, the 38 year old Philadelphia native and his wife Livvy are facing a battle far greater than those Cunningham has faced in the ring. For they’re literally fighting for the life of their eight year old little girl, Kennedy.
For the Cunningham daughter is diagnosed with having Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Known as HLHS, the defect consists of the victim’s heart not being developed fully. Like all HLHS patients, Kennedy was diagnosed immediately after birth.
In fact, the child was first operated on at just two days old. She was operated again half a year later while spending the first twelve months of her life in a hospital, where she suffered from blood infections and a stroke. It’s been reported that doctors didn’t think Kennedy would reach the age of eight. Fortunately, the doctors were proven wrong. The fight for Kennedy’s life was far from over, however.
For the Cunningham’s learned that the condition of Kennedy’s heart made it impossible for the young girl to undergo a procedure most victims of HLHS are able to endure. Such a procedure would have let Kennedy live into adulthood. Now she needed a heart transplant if she was to live at all. Yet the Cunningham’s were told Kennedy would be unable to become a candidate for a new heart, making the plight for their daughter’s life seem like a lost cause.
Yet the Cunningham’s faith paid off. For Kennedy was re-evaluated some time later and put on the list for the much needed heart transplant. As things stand, Steve and Lizzy can get a call at any given moment to make the trip to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The problem is that they have four hours to get Kennedy to the hospital from the second they get the call – and they live four and a half hours away.
It’s literally a case where thirty short minutes means the difference between life and death. What’s more, the family will have to stay in Pittsburgh for a full half year – perhaps even more – after Kennedy’s operation. Life shouldn’t be such an expensive proposition, but, unfortunately, it is in this case.
What many people don’t understand is that winning a tile doesn’t make a fighter rich. Indeed, it rarely does. While it’s true Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao bring down a fortune, most boxers simply don’t. They’re working stiffs – just like everyone else. Even the successful ones.
The Cunningham’s, then, need money. And like any concerned parents, they’re not afraid to ask for it while their child’s life is at stake. A fund has therefore been created to help this family out during their time of need.
“Heart By Faith: Kennedy’s Heart Transplant Fundraiser” is now accepting donations. As of this writing, the charity has reached 30% of its goal of $25,000.
Boxing fans aren’t known for being the wealthiest bunch. It’s doubtful anyone reading this owns a private stable of thoroughbred race horses (and that certainly goes for this writer, as well). But the boxing world has historically been known to be generous nonetheless. Fighters promote and donate to causes. Gyms open their doors to charities. For all its flaws, generosity is often a huge part of the fight game.
And the Cunninghams are now asking for people’s generosity. It’s definitely a worthy cause.
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