Zenit St. Petersburg guard and former U of L Card Kyle Kuric balled with Joey today. Kyle nearly lost a battle with a brain tumor years ago and wanted to inspire Joey to keep up the fight.
See the story and the gallery below.
Huge thanks to Taraneh Kuric (Kyle's wife), Greg Strafer at Blairwood Country Club and Derrick Stewart with Cardinal Phone Repair for donating that game-used jersey.
Plus, thanks to WLKY, WHAS, WDRB, and WAVE for capturing this cool moment. See their coverage:
We have hugged, given and supported without pause since the day we all experienced the cruelty of the fragility of life. The spirit of compassion and hope has been a coat of armor during Joey’s war with cancer.
But love and empathy do have limits of impact. Isolation can pierce them both like a spear, because if you’ve never lived it, you can’t fully understand it. Few have walked in those shoes.
So we reached out to a guy who literally wears much larger shoes than Joey, but figuratively was a perfect fit. If you’re not from Kentucky where basketball is religion, the name Kyle Kuric may not mean much to you. It will after today. Kyle is hoop royalty in these parts. He was a standout at the University of Louisville and has enjoyed tremendous success professionally in Europe. People love him not only because he defies the belief that white men can’t jump, but also because he is genuinely one of the nicest people you will meet.
About 2 years ago, Kyle and his family, too, experienced life’s fickleness. Doctors found a tumor on his brain. It was benign and removed, but the swelling on the brain was so intense, that there was serious concern he would not survive. Forget his basketball future…the future of his wife and two beautiful twins hung in the balance. Yet, for those who know and love Kyle, perhaps it wasn’t a surprise that he won. He returned to practice and then to play in just a few months’ time. His first game? He connected on four three-pointers. The skill. The smile. It was all back.
Now, he’s giving back in a way few can.
Today, Kyle, clad in his Love on the Brain shirt (only $25, see below for details ;)), surprised Joe by challenging him to a game of H-O-R-S-E. What we expected to be a 30-minute meet-and-greet and photo opp, turned into a two-hour inspiring experience. Listen, Joey will talk your ear off if you let him, but this conversation was different. Two guys who have never met each other bound by an unfortunate commonality. Genuine respect. Genuine concern. Genuine connection.
Finally, someone who has walked in his shoes. A new friend who can now walk beside him.
The soccer fans of Louisville showed everyone that gray, indeed, mattered at our "Gray Matters" fundraiser. Louisville City FC allowed us to sell our Love My Joey shirts inside the stadium for the first time and the sales table was nearly empty by the final whistle. The entire stadium got to see our love through our giant tifos and fans rushed to write messages of support on them during the match.
The night was a success because of so many great people committed to the cause. A huge thanks to LouCity FC, The Louisville Coopers, The Black Sheep, Scouse House, and even LCFC defender Sean Reynolds (and his cute pit bull) for spreading the word.
Oh, and we won, 2-1 in front of 10,000 fans.
See some great images from the event below.
Update: Awesome News!!!
See Joey's message sent out at 11 a.m. 7/17/17:
So today we got the results back from the first MRI since treatments were conducted......and scans came back clean! They found no signs of any new growths and were quite pleased with the results. Now something important to remember is that with my diagnosis there is no such thing as remission, but you become "Stable" where there are no new growths. I will continue doing MRI's every 3 months going forward to check for any new growths.
As well, I will continue using the Optune device as a day to day treatment device, and going forwards I will be doing a monthly dose of chemo pills for 12 months, but only one week each month.
A famous soccer team in England is known for using the phrase "You'll Never Walk Alone." Now I am not a fan of this team, and I know many of you aren't soccer fans at all, but believe me you all have brought this phrase to life better than they ever could. I have been blown away by the outpouring of generosity, support, and love since I received my diagnosis. There were days I would wake up, look around, and think here goes another long day of sitting alone thinking about nothing but my situation. But you all have not allowed that. Whether it is a text message, a call, or more news about fundraising efforts, a day hasn't gone by where I felt like I was alone in this fight. Everybody always apologizes for what I am going through, or tells me how unlucky I am. Well I am sorry Lou Gehrig for plagiarizing this, but you all have made me feel like the luckiest man in the world. It has not mattered whether it is the bowling community, soccer community, or just my community of classmates, you all have come together to make me the luckiest man with the support of this family. MercyMe has a song I rely on often called "Bring the Rain." There is a part of the song that really speaks to me where they say "And I know there'll be days, when this life brings me pain, but if that's what it takes, bring the rain." You all make me invite the rain, and whatever else this disease tries to bring my way, because I know with your support I can handle and overcome whatever it is.I wake up every day with the simple mentality to defy the stats. Every day I wake up is another day closer to defying the stats, to making this situation a comma in my life story, not a period. You all make defying the stats easier because you have defied my every expectation and desire. My brothers at Love My Joey quote on the website that "Everyone has a Joey in their life." That has been shown to be incorrect to me because all of you have made me THE Joey in your life and I can never thank you all enough for that. If you would have told me 3 months ago about this level of support, I would have not believed you. That is not because I thought my friends and family were incapable of it, it is because I am so thoroughly overwhelmed by the generosity, support, and love. You are all my brothers and sisters in this fight, and I will do everything I can every day to win this fight because I have seen how many of you are in my corner. You all are my inspiration, you all are my motivation, you all are my strength. You all are Love My Joey. I love you all as family, and I cannot ever thank you enough for your support and love as WE fight this.
Love, Joey Cecil
Joe's friends at Wolfe's Bowling Supply wanted to make sure the stress on the lanes is something Joey doesn't have to worry about. So they gifted him the all new Ebonite Verdict, with the wish, "may your scores be high and continue to fight on and off the lanes."
Joe's bowling family is nothing short of awesome. This is particularly heart-warming considering Joe mops the lanes with them all on a regular basis. :)
"Joe Bowl" could not have been a bigger success. Thousands of dollars were raised as close to 200 people came out the bowling fundraiser.
It was a tremendous event put on by Ten Pin Strike and Spare and showed just how tight knit the Louisville bowling community is.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this a night to remember.
In case you didn't know, Joe is a former intern for Louisville City FC, and after learning of his diagnosis, the club extended an open invitation to training.
Joe took them up on the offer and he spent some time talking x's and o's (which Joe is ridiculously good at) with the players and they shared some words of encouragement.
BTW, you'll also notice Joey's backpack. That's his OpTune device. The other part is hiding under his hat.
It utilizes TTFields whih work when cancer cells are dividing and do not disrupt healthy resting cells. To learn more about the device visit optune.com.
Well, here it is...the OpTune. Joey has to wear this 16-18 hours per day. Among the many inconveniences that comes with this is the fact that sweating can inhibit connections. So, things like bowling or even spending a significant time outside in the heat watching soccer, may not be possible. Considering those are two of our friend's favorite things...it's a hell of a lifestyle change.
Those beautiful red locks are gone as Joey preps for the next phase of hies fight. On Monday, June 26, Joey will begin treatment with the OpTune. The device creates low-intensity electric fields, called Tumor Treating Fields, or TTFields. TTFields help slow or stop glioblastoma cancer cells from dividing and may also cause some of them to die. TTFields work when cancer cells are dividing and do not disrupt healthy resting cells. To learn more about the device visit optune.com.
In the days leading up to "Joe Bowl" and even the night of, our warrior saturated the airwaves to share his story and explained how we want our Love My Joey message to spread. Thanks to all of the media outlets that took an interest in Joe's story.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer took a moment to share words of support. Thanks mayor for all you do!
Joey is a 27-year-old with a heart of gold and a brain with cancerous cells. His “job” is to provide financial empowerment to the people of the Louisville, Ky community. Joe has been a part of multiple organizations that have raised money for those in need of some form of help. Joey has given so much to his fellow man. It’s time we give it back to him!
Joey was diagnosed with a grade IV glioblastoma tumor in April 2017. He quickly underwent surgery to have the tumor removed, but you never really remove glioblastoma.
We are doing all we can to raise funds for Joey so that this tremendous battle won’t be accompanied by a tremendous insurmountable financial burden on his family. Because he is such a magnanimous human, Joey has a large circle of friends that refuses to let him go it alone. Our purpose is two fold: