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KENNESAW, Georgia – Volleyball season is right around the corner for Kennesaw State, which means it’s also time for one of their biggest games of the season, as the Owls will host Griffin’s seventh annual game on Tuesday, September 6 at 6:30 p.m. against Samford. Bulldogs at the Convocation Center.
Named for head coach Keith Schunzel and assistant volunteer Briana Schunzel’s son, Griffin, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the KSU volleyball team selects a family to honor and support in order to help with his expenses in his fight against childhood cancer.
For the 2022 Griffin’s Game, the Owls will honor Emily Kate McKinney, of Marietta, Ga.
Help us support Emily and her family by marking your calendars for this year’s Griffin’s Game. Tickets for the contest are $10, with $5 from each ticket sold going to Emily’s family, and can be purchased HERE. Fans also have the option to donate to the fundraiser, as well as donate and/or purchase an official game t-shirt on the KSU donation page. HERE.
The Schunzels received overwhelming support when Griffin was diagnosed in March 2015, and together with KSU’s volleyball program and athletic department, they want to be able to provide the same level of support to a local family struggling with a similar struggle. .
“As Emily and her family battle this horrible disease, we look forward to this opportunity to surround them with love and support during this very trying time in their lives,” Schunzel said.
Emily Kate “EK” was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic neuroblastoma on December 13, 2021, at just 16 months old. A small swollen lymph node on her neck appeared out of nowhere, which brought her to the pediatrician’s office. Continued swelling, extra bumps and a rough virus led to many doctor visits until his parents finally received an ENT referral, which led to a biopsy and then the call that neither parent ever did. ever ready to hear – “Emily has cancer”. Their little family of four had their whole world turned upside down with that one sentence.
The following weeks were filled with analyzes to determine his final diagnosis, staging and treatment plan. The cancer had spread to nearby lymph nodes and bone marrow. EK started chemotherapy at the CHOA Scottish Rite New Year’s week. After four rounds of chemotherapy, his bone marrow was cleared of all cancer cells. She would go through eight more cycles of chemo, adding stronger chemo, to see if the treatment could make the tumor respond better. Each cycle brought more nausea, possible long-term side effects, and stress. Yet, every day, Emily performed as much as she could and never let herself down.
After a trip to Chicago for the National Neuroblastoma Conference, Emily’s family met with top neuroblastoma oncologists and will now travel to Memorial Sloane Kettering in New York on September 12 for surgery to remove the majority of the tumor.
To date, Emily has undergone: 24 days of chemotherapy, 61 blood tests, three bone marrow aspirations, 16 days of hospitalization, 4 MRIs, three chest X-rays, two lymphadenopathy surgeries and CT scan, MIGB scan, PET scan. , Echocardiogram, port placement surgery and ultrasound.
Emily just turned two. She wakes up every day with a smile and proves to the world that she is the greatest warrior.