Athletes

B.C. player gets support from fans in Spain, Greece as son battles brain tumour

To Donate to Skyler, Levon, Alexandra Kash Go to the fundraiser page at Gofundme.com. Please share the “GoFundMe” page on Facebook, Twitter, Email and word of mouth etc. so others can see Skyler’s Journey to recovery and him becoming cancer free! More than $60,000 has been raised for Skyler with the support of the families, teams, fans.

With CB Gran Canaria’s regular season close to an end, all Levon Kendall was thinking about was the playoffs. Then his 10-month-old son Skyler got sick.

At first, Skyler was projectile vomiting and a local doctor thought it might be a stomach virus that had been going around Gran Canaria, the third-largest of Spain’s Canary Islands.

Two days later Kendall was driving to practice when his wife Alexandra called him and told him he needed to turn around.

Skyler was diagnosed with a two-inch brain tumour. Kendall left the team and flew his family to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children for treatment. Once back in Canada, doctors “removed all the tumour that they could see,” said Kendall.

The family headed to Kendall’s hometown of Vancouver where they waited until Skyler was old enough to receive radiation treatment.

Super Skyler

When Gran Canaria fans learned why their 6’10” forward missed the playoffs, Kendall received an outpouring of support. A gofundme page was started with the support of the team and fans from across Europe started making donations.

Teammates and other players in Spain’s Liga Endesa, the country’s top basketball league, also rallied around him, giving money and sending out messages of support through social media.

“As soon as the site was up the response was really amazing,” said Kendall. “Lots of people from my old team in Santiago [de Compostela] that I played with for three years, and really just fans from all over Spain. There was also some Berlin fans in there.

“About a week into it another friend of ours passed the story on to a Greek journalist and then he wrote an article and the story caught on in Greece where I also played for three years.”

Not all the money has come from Europe. Canadian men’s basketball head coach Jay Triano, who knows Kendall from his time playing for the national team, made a contribution as did former head coach Leo Rautins.

So far, the crowdfunding campaign has raised more than $60,000 to cover the family’s travel and living expenses.

Hoping to get back to normal

Kendall and his family now spend much of their week in Seattle where Skyler is receiving radiation treatment at the Proton Therapy Center.

As Kendall tries to explain how Skyler has just undergone the 13th of 30 treatments, the toddler can be heard shouting in the background.

“As you can hear, he’s doing pretty well,” he said.

He says Sklyer has lost some hair and is experiencing some pain, but “he’s been handling the radiation really well. He just learned how to walk last week, which has blown everyone away.”

Kendall is flattered by the support. After winning three B.C. high school championships with the Kitsilano Blue Demons more than a decade ago, he spent years living the life of a basketball journeyman, moving from team to team and country to country. The support from fans, players and coaches feels like validation for all that time spent away from home.

“It’s really been mind-blowing, I’m shaking my head lots of days. For playing the game and entertaining people throughout my career, this many people are reaching out and trying to treat my family like their family.”Whether he will continue to play basketball professionally remains to be seen. The 31-year-old has put his career on hold to be with his family.

He hopes to return to the game, but would happily exchange the thrill of pro sports for the simple pleasures of family life.

“We hope to get back to some sense of normalcy and enjoy some family time and do normal things,” he said.

SOURCE: GLOBAL BC