<strong>HYRUM—</strong> A soccer tournament for a 12-year-old boy is bringing the sometimes divided Cache Valley soccer community together this Friday and Saturday.
“There have been some pretty intense rivalries and some very difficult issues between the different organizations, but this cause has helped those involved to put past differences aside and work for what really matters,” tournament organizer Stephanie Tippets said. “Many tears have been shed, hugs and handshakes – it’s really neat.”
Hyrum resident Kenton Reynolds received some surprising and disappointing news at the end of the last school year: He was diagnosed with AML Leukemia. Tippets and the soccer community, however, quickly responded to organize a soccer tournament for the family this weekend at Hyrum City Park.
“Kenton has the biggest smile and the biggest heart,” Tippets said.
In little more than a month, Tippets organized sponsors, solicited donations, obtained a venue and almost fifty teams who wanted to play. Hyrum City donated the baseball fields for the purpose of the tournament, as well as the lights over the park for evening games – which Tippets said can be expensive to rent.
“It’s a huge group effort,” Tippets said. “It’s been amazing, every night we’re here until midnight. Everyone goes to their day job and then works on Kenton’s Cup all night.”
Tippets and her husband Brian became acquainted with the Reynolds family through working with the South Cache Soccer League. Stephanie said when she heard about Kenton’s diagnosis, she figured a small soccer tournament would help to raise needed funds for Kenton’s treatment. Kenton participated in chemotherapy all summer and will have a bone marrow transplant this fall.
Lucas Reynolds, Kenton’s father, said his family appreciates the help received from the community.
“We’d like them to know we appreciate it, and thanks is all we can give them,” Lucas said. “We’d like them to know thanks for all they do.”
Kenton, who was recently told his marrow counts are high enough to be ahead of schedule for a transplant, said he is staying positive.
“Just knowing that all my friends and family are supportive through it all no matter what (matters),” Kenton said.
Once Kenton receives the transplant at Primary Children’s in Salt Lake City, he will have to live within an hour of the hospital for three months, Lucas said, adding he will stay with Kenton while his wife, Deb, and Kenton’s little sister visit as occasion permits.
Keeping away from germs and sickness is the tricky part of being treated for Leukemia, Tippets said. Finding a place to live that is safe from germs for three months will be a big expense, she said.
The tournament’s mission attracted the attention of members of the Real Salt Lake soccer team, who tweeted about the event. Also, the USU Woman’s Soccer team will stop by Saturday at Noon to help promote.
Tippets said for the short amount of time it took to plan Kenton’s Cup – normally tournaments take about a year to prepare for – the response has been massive. She said other teams want to participate in the tournament next year, which will be held in honor of another recently diagnosed AML Leukemia patient.
Kenton, who likes to play goalie, smiled and said he hopes to play in the tournament next year.
“If not, I’ll be okay,” he said.