by Steve Sears
Andrew Low, entering his junior year at Morristown-Beard High School, knows the pain of cancer.
In 2016, he lost his paternal grandparents just 6 months apart. Then, on Christmas morning, his 6-year-old German Shepherd lay down right under his Christmas tree and died of cancer.
“We had only just discovered she had been sick 5 days earlier,” Low says. “I knew from this experience how horrible cancer was, how it is so terrible for the patient and their families. I knew I wanted to do something to help but was unsure how.”
Low, who plays high school hockey, started to think about ways to pair his love of the game and helping those in need. In 2018, he organized a charity hockey game through his varsity hockey team and raised $14,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Based on this success, Low’s wheels turned. “I knew with me being able to raise $14,000, I thought if I had a whole team of 40 players, I could make something of it.”
Low, whose personal goal was to raise $100,000 for pediatric cancers during his high school years, set the bar for his sophomore year at $35,000, to bring his total to almost the halfway point. He then created Kids Ice Cancer. He bought the name, built his own website (www.kidsicecancer.com),created a logo, social media pages, and laid out his mission. “I knew there had to be more kids like me who wanted to help, to get involved in helping others, but were unsure how to start.” With Kids Ice Cancer, he organized an annual all-star hockey game, the initial contest to be played March 27 at The American Dream. “I invited 40 great hockey players to join the team and, at the start of the year in January, Kids Ice Cancer kicked off its fundraising, started to collect donations, and sold corporate sponsorships.”
“All the money we collect goes directly to The Valerie Fund,” Low says, also stating that his visit to the Valerie Fund in Goryeb Children’s Hospital at Morristown Medical Center (www.thevaleriefund.org/morristown-medical-center) in August 2019 was really life changing for him. “When I was there and I saw the children doing treatments, it really touched me and it made me more motivated to make sure I did the best job I possibly could do to help these kids who need it the most. It touches the heart, it really does.”
“Andrew had typed up a commitment letter that the players would sign and agree to come to the practice, play in the game, and raise money for the Valerie Fund,” says Wendy Low, Andrew’s Mom. “There was a kickoff meeting in January, and the fundraising was only supposed to be for three months.”
“What I underestimated was just how powerful it was with 40 individual people on the team each raising money,” said Low, “and we quickly surpassed our goal.” Kids Ice Cancer upped their bar to $125,000 and were just over $120,000 when the pandemic hit. “We had to basically shut everything down,” said Low. “We halted all fundraising too; we did not feel that it was appropriate to ask for money during this difficult time.” And American Dream, where the game was to be held, was also shuttered. “The team was excited and proud of what we accomplished. We are currently at $122,167, so close! We are definitely trying to make the push to get to our goal of $125,000. That would be amazing.”
The postponed March game has been rescheduled for August 21. Kevin Fox, the Grassroots Manager for the New Jersey Devils, saw an article about Low in the June/July issue of USA Hockey Magazine and reached out, kindly suggesting and providing a new location for the game. “Since we did not have any idea when American Dream might reopen, we decided to accept their generous offer to provide us with a venue to hold our all-star game and conclude this year’s fundraiser.” The game will hopefully be held Friday August 21 from 7:00-10:00 P.M. at the Devils’ practice facility, RWJ Barnabas Health Hockey House in Newark.
If postponed again, it will be held sometime in the future.
“What matters most is the great work our Kids Ice Cancer team did raising money for the kids that need it the most,” says Low.
For the future, Low would love to continue with the Valerie Fund, and use Kids Ice Cancer as a platform for other children’s cancer charities in the United States.