September 17, 2021
By Mike Kruzman / email@example.com
A young woman battling cancer got the chance to fulfill her dream of becoming a sideline cheerleader with a team from Howell High School.
The Howell Junior Varsity Cheer team invited 14-year-old Mady Kelsoe as an honorary member of their team to a football game against Plymouth on Thursday. Mady, her mother Ashley and supporters arrived at John Dukes Stadium in a crowded student ward full of signs of support.
Ashley said they kept this a surprise for her daughter, who loves all things cheering and dancing. She told WHMI about the ups and downs Mady has endured through her cancer treatment. Ashley said: “(Mady’s) has been battling neuroblastoma every now and then for almost six years. She’s had a hard life. She’s gone away from getting it clear it’s coming back right away, so she needs to get her chances when she can because she She’s had a lot of downtime and a lot of times that she can’t do the things she wants to do at home, so, you know, things like this really, really touch this mom’s heart.”
The Kelsoes are from Alabama and came to Michigan today for a charity golf outing at Whispering Pines in Pinckney on behalf of the group, Fighting All Monsters (FAM), to raise awareness about childhood cancer. FAM was founded three years ago by its founder, Milk Tyson, who has made it his life mission to do things like this for children affected by the disease.
Locally, Lynne Fialkowski became involved with the group after the loss of her brother to cancer, and Mady became its spokesperson. She said that after she invited the Kelsoes, she thought they should do something special. It all came together when a host mom of some Howell exchange students working for the Neuroblastoma Foundation learned that Mady was interested in cheering on the sidelines.
Howell Cheer Coach Leya Carstensen said they took the opportunity to accept Mady and shared how the idea came together. Carstensen said, “We have a few exchange students on our team this year, and their host mom works at the Neuroblastoma Foundation and heard that (Mady) wanted to put cheer aside. She called me and we were like, ‘Of course we want her. Carstensen said it all came together in less than a week. She called the experience ‘amazing’ and went on to say: ‘Our community came out and they were super excited and they’re giving all their support to this girl. It’s amazing… The kids found out yesterday. It’s absolutely amazing to have all these kids and all these characters.”
Mady was allowed to spend time on the sidelines with the team, talking to them and taking pictures. She said she was very surprised and thought they were only here for the golf tournament. Mady said it means a lot to her to have this opportunity.