North Central College in Naperville is battling in the Division III football playoffs, but that's nothing compared to the cancer battle the coach's wife is facing.

Thanks to some support from the team, as they fight on, so does she.

North Central head football coach John Thorne's wife Kathie was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a treatable but incurable form of blood cancer. So after losing in week one, it would've been both easy and understandable for the Cardinals to fold for the rest of the year. But this team is like a family, and it was time for the family to come together.

"Our philosophy goes faith, family, academics and then way down at the bottom of the list some place you finally run into football," John Thorne said. "We've always preached family here and other things than football that should be first in your life," said Jeff Thorne, the team's offensive coordinator. "Faith, and then family obviously, and friendships and relationships, and football has to fall somewhere after those things and academics, obviously, in an institution like this. And they've embraced it from several years back, but this year it's really demonstrated itself in a way that we've not seen before."

And how it was demonstrated truly shows that this is a whole family. Just as pink is the color for breast cancer awareness, burgundy is the color for multiple myeloma. The team started wearing burgundy bracelets that read "No one fights alone" in support of Kathie Thorne, but, they didn't stop there. If treatment was going to cause her to lose her hair, she wouldn't be bald alone.

"John called me and said, 'Be prepared. They've shaved their heads,'" Kathie Thorne said. "Losing your hair is a pretty emotional thing, for a female especially. To know that people cared enough, young men who are not with me every day, but knew what I was going through, took that kind of step was certainly powerful. Humbling, very humbling."

"We're a big family here at North Central College on this football team," said North Central defensive end Willie Hayes. "We just wanted to do something to show our support for the team and for Kathie and coach Thorne's family and all that, so we decided as a group to shave our heads. " "This is one big family here and we've been through a lot and hearing about what happened with Kathie, we've really bounced back from those things and I think become a closer unit," said North Central defensive tackle Peter Bulandr. "There's something bigger than 3rd and 10, 4th and 10, you're being down in the 4th quarter, that real life things happen to you and the game of football teaches you things, like sticking together with your family and fighting through adversity," said tight end Alex Haan. North Central won this past weekend, but, before the opening kickoff, Kathie Thorne already knew who the winners were.

"I admire them as football players, but probably human beings first because of the kind hearts that they have and the support that is overwhelming and humbling. They've got courage," Kathie Thorne said.

ABC7 is featuring interesting sports stories throughout the area in a new segment called "7 on Your Sideline." If you have a suggestion for a story, let us know on the ABC7 Chicago Facebook page.

(Copyright ©2014 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Get more Sports »


Tags:
7 on your sideline, sports, rafer weigel
blog comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement