LHS Senior Kate Garry joined the CFK ‘Night for the Fight’ fundraiser event as a high school freshman, and every year of her high school career becoming the top fundraiser for the annual event
By: Chuck Gibson
LOVELAND, OH (April 10, 2020) – Kate Garry has proven herself an exceptional student athlete during her high school career playing three years of varsity volleyball and four years of varsity basketball setting the all-time 3-point record (178), single season (52), and single game (8) while closing out her high school career as a two-year team captain and third on the all-time scoring list with 840 career points.
Kate Garry was a familiar face as an athlete with Loveland Tiger volleyball and basketball (Photo Chuck Gibson)
Her athletic prowess has earned Garry the opportunity to continue her athletic career at the University of Akron where she’ll represent the Zips on the basketball court while studying sales management. Yet, it is clear Garry has proven to be an exceptional young lady outside the boundaries of athletics. She raised $33,720 during four years attending “Night for the Fight” (N4F) for CancerFree Kids (CFK).
Aside from the fact her mom works for CFK, you have to go back to the end of her eighth-grade school year to learn how Garry became determined to help fund pediatric cancer research. She was a very active 13 year-old playing soccer, volleyball, basketball, running and high-jumping in track.
You would not have known she battled scoliosis (a disease which frequently affects 9-15 year old females causing a curvature of the spine) which required corrective back surgery for her that year. The surgeon implanted two rods to straighten her back and ordered extensive inactivity for recovery. She wasn’t allowed to do much at all. She was at home 24/7.
“I wasn’t even allowed to go to school for four weeks because you can’t get bumped or anything,” said Garry. “It was about a week and a half after surgery and I was just bored out of my mind.”
There were days Garry went to work with her dad, other days she went to work with her mom – just to get out of the house. The only other option was sitting at home with her grandparents because someone had to be home with her. It wasn’t all bad. She says she gained two inches in height from the straightening of her spine. With limits on physical activity, she was happy just to get out of the house. It was February, her mom was working the N4F fundraising event and her dad suggested they go for a little bit to check it out.
“I went and sat in one of the club areas. This looks super fun,” Garry said at the time. “I’m definitely doing this next year. I’m going to get a group of people. There was like no one at Loveland that did it. No one at Loveland really knew about it.”
The CancerFree Kids Night for the Fight attracts a “bunch of high school kids” for a night of fun(d) raising each February. (Provided)
Garry saw what she thought was “a bunch of high school kids” having fun together. She definitely did participate in the “Night for the Fight” that next year- her freshman year. It was hard for her to believe only two teams of Loveland students participated that year. They just didn’t know about it.
“It blew my mind really,” she said. “I wouldn’t have known if my mom didn’t work there.”
Four years later, she says that number has grown to eight or nine teams of Loveland students participating. Students come from schools all around the Greater Cincinnati Area to stay up all night on a Saturday/Sunday each February to help raise funds for pediatric cancer research. Just this past February, 1,550 students came from more than 50 area schools. Night for the Fight has raised over $1 million dollars during the past seven years. Each student has to pay $125 to participate, that’s all, they do NOT have to raise more than that. Clearly some do. This year they raised over $338,000 at the N4F.
Kate Garry was right in the middle of the group of students holding up the $338,727 tally sign this year. (Provided)
Garry is nothing if not competitive. She proved that as a high school athlete. It also showed up in her efforts to raise money for the N4F event each year. She raised $900 her first year despite only being required to pay a $125 fee to participate in the event. The students are treated to an inspirational and action-packed night of walking, running, dancing, playing games, and more.
“I was super happy as a freshman to get $900,” said Garry. “I did not think I would get that at all.”
Kate Garry as a sophomore right after getting her hair cut at N4F (Courtesy Kate Garry)
As if that wasn’t enough, Garry set a goal to raise $5,000 as a sophomore. That’s quite a jump, but a goal she felt she could probably reach. Probably? She ultimately raised $6,700 that year. Her competitive nature was revealed as she battled another student for the top fundraiser prize. They were back-n-forth for first prize until a large last minute donation put him over the top. Still, he allowed Kate to choose the prize she wanted. That was also the last year they donated hair with a corporate sponsor donating $100 for each inch of hair clipped off.
“Whew! Let me tell you it was short,” Garry recalled. “Your friend is cutting it with scissors. It was probably 10 inches. I was like Wow, it’s short.”
Then Garry upped the ante again for her junior year increasing her fundraising goal to $10,000 . Why? It goes back to the story of her own personal trial with back surgery in eighth grade. The inactivity was just a miserable time for her. It was not fun. It gives her pause for thought even today.
“When you think about what kids like that (with cancer) have to go through,” she said, “my surgery is nothing compared to what they have to go through. It’s not fair for them. They did not choose to have cancer. I’m going to see what I can do.”
Garry makes it seem simple. She just chooses to go do whatever she can to help. Sure, the N4F event has introduced her to new friends. It has helped her develop leadership skills as a part of the Leadership Team during sophomore and junior years. She has taken on more responsibility in her role as a member of the Executive Team during her junior and senior year. In that capacity, she was part of recruiting and organizing the speakers for the event. The speakers are always one of the most inspiring and impactful moments of the night.
“I remember junior year, front row, opening speaker, I just started crying,” Garry said. “It was an amazing story. It hit a ton of people. It was about a little girl – her parents telling the story. It was a cool story. It really touches you.”
Kate Garry just wants to help kids by raising money for CFK (Provided)
Remember, Garry set a goal to raise $10,000 that year. With the help of about $3,000 in special Christmas Card sales – donated by her dad’s company – and flyers she distributed to neighbors, along with a $1,000 donation from Tony Ricci (Tony’s Steakhouse) she again cleared the bar raising $11,000.
‘You just have to ask,” Garry explained. “The worst they can do is say no.”
Garry has found creative ways to communicate the “ask. Flyers, face-to-face, charity events at school and with friends, and of course text messaging all played a key role. It’s no surprise she raised the goal to $15,000 for this year with all those tools and the natural competitive nature she attributes to playing sports with her older brother Jack (nearly six years her senior) when she was a little kid.
“Yes, I’m a super competitive person,” admits Garry. “Don’t care, I live and die for sports. Basketball has been my sport since I was a kid. I’m just blessed to be athletic enough to do what I’ve done.”
LHS senior Kate Garry raised nearly $34K for CancerFree Kids in 4 years of “Night for the Fight” fundraising (Photo Chuck Gibson)
In her own words, Garry struggled to reach her fundraising goal this year. Lingering around $12K with a week to go, her competitive spirit took over. Second place was getting closer with another girl from Loveland getting company matches, Garry was simply not going to finish second. She searched her mind for ideas and began “blowing up” peoples phones with text messages. She got within $200 dollars with less than an hour until she should be at 2020 N4F. She just finished playing a basketball game and trainers knew she was closing in on her goal.
“I went in to get ice after my game. I was so excited,” Garry said. “The trainer donated fifty bucks, I was $80 away. I got a text from my AAU coach – send me the link and I’ll donate.”
That was it. Garry raised the $15,000 she hoped to raise. A week later a check for $120 came in from friends in Florida. Her final tally for the year was $15,120. She was called to the stage during the Night for the Fight and recognized as the top fundraiser for the year. She was also recognized for her four year fundraising total of $33,720 for CancerFree Kids.
A photo from N4F when Kate Garry was just a sophomore. (Courtesy Kate Garry)
She expects to leave for University of Akron in mid-June for classes and basketball workouts throughout the summer. She hopes it doesn’t end there.
“I hope to be able to come back and volunteer for CancerFree Kids,” said Garry. “I know for sure I’ll be here to volunteer for the ‘Butterfly Walk’ in May. I’ve definitely thought about how I’ll be able to help volunteer at N4F. It’ll be difficult because it will be in college basketball season. I’ll just have to see if we don’t have practice Sunday. I could drive back, volunteer then be back to Akron. We’ll see how it goes. I’m working it out to be there.”
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