CHICAGO – The Southside community is rallying to help a family whose kids have been battling cancer since 2016. The help comes in the form of a Chicago pastime: a 16-inch charitable softball tournament set to take place on Friday.
Beau Dowling has been engaged in the battle of a lifetime since he was a toddler. Now 7 years old, Beau was originally diagnosed in September of 2016 with high-risk neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nerve cells.
“He had an eight-pound tumor on his adrenaline gland,” mother Meg Dowling told WGN News.
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In 2020, Beau was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
But at its heart, Beau’s Battle is really part of the story: a story about love, community support and keeping a legacy alive.
Liam Hopkins lost his father, Tom, to cancer in 2014. His family started the Papa Hops Softball Tournament, which now raises money to help other families battling cancer.
“Our foundation’s mission is to help families in our community that have been affected by cancer, whether it’s adolescence, young adults or elderly loved ones,” Hopkins said. “We just like to kind of pay forward the kindness that was shown to our father.”
What started with a 16-inch softball affair of 18 teams has grown into 32 teams with 480 players competing at three different parks in one jam packed day and night.
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The prize money will be awarded to the Dowlings.
Beau is also feeling the love from his favorite baseball team, the White Sox. Beau recently got a chance to slap hands with the team as he rounded the bases at Guaranteed Rate Field, with players and coaches lining third base and Southpaw at home plate!
Times have been tough for the tight-knit family of seven kids. The Dowling’s daughter Ella was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2020 but is now in remission. The family says the generosity of their many supporters is much appreciated.
“We are blessed to live here,” Meg Dowling said.
So what’s the family’s happily ever after?
“That all seven of my kids live a long, healthy happy, happy life,” Dowling said.
Click here for more on Friday’s tournament.
In the last eight years, the Tom Hopkins Foundation has raised more than $450,000 and supported 50 families with their cancer battles.