Shana Shivel’s husband Chris played college soccer at Northern Kentucky. Shivel, a South Carolina Gamecock football fan, was dragged to soccer games by Chris. She didn’t understand the game.
“It just looked like they were running around aimlessly,” she said over lunch in downtown Rock Hill.
Now, Shivel’s son and daughter play for Discoveries, and her attitude about the game has changed. Soccer will be a perfect vehicle for fighting cancer in York County, a personal aim for Shivel. Her aunt is a 15-year survivor, but the disease claimed four other family members, including her mother, Debbie, five years ago.
“She was very athletic, she loved sports,” Shivel said. “She’s where I get my competitive nature from.”
Shivel and friend Sarah Morris have organized The Carolinas’ Kickin’ It Challenge, to be held at Manchester Meadows May 10 and 11. The youth soccer tournament will raise money for breast cancer with the particular aim of keeping the proceeds in York County.
Shivel and her grandmother and a host of other family members were there for Debbie during the course of her illness. But it left Shivel with the question, “How do women do this who don’t have any support system at all?”
Service to others was one of Debbie’s foundational priorities in life, and Shivel has taken up that mantle. She and Morris heard of the Kickin’ It Challenge idea and thought it would work at the Manchester Meadows complex. The three-year-old event originated in California, and Shivel emailed the original organizer, who was thrilled to help spread the event to the East Coast. Shivel’s personal experience with breast cancer, and her personality, spurred the event into life after a year of behind the scenes work.
“I don’t like to be told no,” she said with a laugh.
Finances, family and employment can all clutter the path to unfettered care for breast cancer patients. Morris, an OB-GYN who also lost her mother to cancer, and Shivel were standing on the sidelines of their kids’ soccer game one Saturday discussing that very topic. Their issue was with the disconnection between donations to breast cancer causes and visible results.
Unlike some charity events for cancer, where the proceeds disappear down a pink hole, Shivel’s event will channel the money it raises to local sources. Part of the proceeds from the tournament will bring Carolinas Medical Center’s mobile mammography truck, “Project Pink,” to York County. Women that get screenings done in the truck will then be referred to a doctor if need be.
“When you leave and you may have a suspicious report and now you don’t know what to do with it,” said Shivel, “they take it a step further and give you a referral for a local doctor in Rock Hill.”
Another part of the money raised will go to cancer-fighting juggernaut Susan G. Komen. That group, synonymous with cancer fund-raising, will set up a York County-specific small grants program. Any certified non-profit group, attached to cancer research, treatment or help in some way, is eligible to apply for funding.
“Not necessarily treatment costs, because they’re so high, but anything that would qualify for a small grant,” sais Shivel, citing transportation to appointments or screening days hosted by local businesses as examples.
Over the course of this year, Shivel wants to follow up on the grant money to see what the selected charities did to help York County combat cancer. Everyone else can already see what she and Morris have done.
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T