by Catherine Garrett
Woods Cross High School sophomore Kaidan Sudbury has led a painful life. At the age of 5, she began battling leukemia. Two-and-a-half-years of treatments helped her survive the disease, but the effects left her with, among other health challenges, Avascular Necrosis – “death of the bone” – which limits her physically amidst sometimes unbearable pain.
For a few years, she had minimal troubles until this past fall when the “horrible pain,” according to her mother, returned in her lower legs. “The theory is that because of the weakened bone, she has insufficiency fractures caused by her normal activities and body weight,” her mother, Mystee Sudbury, said.
Two weeks ago, Kaidan had a painful surgery of titanium rods inserted into both of her tibias in hopes of relieving the bone stress.
All the 16-year-old wants is to be on a softball field playing with her Wildcats teammates. But, since that’s not possible for now, she began organizing a “Gold” game – the color for all childhood cancers – to raise money for CureSearch, a national non-profit organization whose mission is to end children’s cancer. The event was held when the Bountiful and Woods Cross softball teams met for a region game May 10.
“Not only was this game important to Kaidan before all this happened [with her recent surgery], but now even more so,” said Woods Cross softball coach Casey Plowman. “Our gold game event turned out incredible. We started just under $1,000 before the event with just donations the girls gathered over the two weeks. By the end of the event yesterday we raised over $4,000!”
“This gold game was incredibly important to me,” Kaidan Sudbury said. “I was lucky enough to have my idea turn into reality and it was so special.”
Mystee Sudbury said her family is “humbled and amazed” by the community’s support. “Everyone came together and worked so hard to make this event successful and we couldn’t be more appreciative,” she said.
Donations from the community came from the Salt Lake City Fire Station, Hand and Stone and Massage, Davis Tech, Nielsen’s Frozen Custard, Top Hat, Quilters Attic, Peppermill Hotel & Concert, Spanky’s, Little Caesars Pizza, All Poly, Sinclair Oil, Scoreboard Sports, Addictive Behavior Motor Works, Parsons’ Bakery, Gem Smith, Tina’s Hallmark, Hip and Humble, Maverik, Salt Lake Bees, King Camo, Pace’s Dairy Ann, Lee’s Market, Chuck-A-Rama, Les Schwab of Bountiful and the Golightly family.
“It was such a cool experience to see everyone come together to support such an important cause,” Kaidan Sudbury said. “I have felt love through the amount of support from all of the students and players.”
Kaidan continues a slow recovery from her surgery with “the best attitude,” according to her mother. “Kaidan has handled her health troubles with a positive attitude and has always persevered, trying to do as much as she possibly can, even with her limitations.”
Despite Kaidan’s own hopes and dreams being sidelined for now, she said she is “doing okay.” “I have daily aches and pains that 16-year-olds typically don’t have, but that is my normal. I am happy and in a good place,” she said.
Kaidan’s family has made it a personal mission to address the need they have seen firsthand for more research and funding for childhood cancer, which receives less than 5 percent of the cancer funding from the federal government.
“We can’t change what Kaidan has had to endure, but we are going to do everything we can to make it better for future generations,” Mystee Sudbury said. “We need better treatments without the harsh side effects until we can find that cure.”
Kaidan hopes to encourage others to sponsor an event that supports childhood cancer research and funding. “It would be so special to me if this turned into more than just one game and other teams wanted to participate in their own gold games,” she said.
For more information on CureSearch, visit www.CureSearch.org.