By: Jennifer Hoffman
At 21 months old Kenwar Johnson was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. Now, 12 years later he is participating in the Pellegrini Youth All-Star Football Classic that will raise money to directly help families affected by cancer. An all too familiar situation his family found themselves in December of 2007.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia became the Johnson’s new home while Kenwar underwent life saving treatment. The family who was on vacation in Philadelphia at the time took the timing of his diagnosis as a blessing rather than a disruption, “This was a blessing to be in the area at the time because CHOP is #1 for treating his cancer.” said Kenwar’s Mom Dee.
Kenwar probably didn’t realize it then but his family was his biggest support system, praying for him every step of the way and keeping him occupied with normal toddler activities like dancing, running around and watching sports with Dad.
But what really got him through his treatment was being told to stay strong like Superheroes are. “We’re a big Marvel family and Kenwar is our superhero. We told him Tony Starks made his hearing aids aka Super Ears. Through all the surgeries and treatments he went in like a superhero.” Dee recalled.
Just like any young boy, they grow up and want to be just like their Dad. Kenwar was no different. Soon after completing treatment, he asked if he could play football. His parents continuously said no, afraid of their son who just went through so much with battling cancer to get hurt playing football.
Kenwar didn’t take no for an answer. “The doctors said something to his dad and I that we heard for a long time during treatments, He asked the doctors and they gave him the green light. “We heard the doctors say over and over, that it’s not about the quantity of life, it’s about the quality of life. If that’s what his life has become then he can play football; he will be ok!” Dee said.
Kenwar suited up in his football gear for the first time in 5th grade and hasn’t looked back since. Dee calls him her little Brian Dawkins.
Kenwar will be one of the participants in the Pellegrini Youth All-Star Football Classic on Saturday December 14th. This event has extra meaning to him since it is benefiting those affected by cancer, a feeling Kenwar knows first hand.
Every teacher and coach that has crossed paths with Kenwar has said he is the “heart of the team” and this event at Malvern Prep will be no different. “We found it, Kenwar fought it and we won. Kenwar will do great things because God is with him.”
To learn more about the Youth Football Event please click here.