Siblings Charlie, Jack and Jordan Sheridan pose with Jack’s certificate of achievement from Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. (submitted photo)
Twenty flights of stairs and 338 steps — that’s how long it takes to reach the top of the highest building in Central New York. On Saturday, Nov. 17, On My Team16 is challenging runners and walkers of all ages and athletic abilities to put their quadriceps to the test, or a sponsor an athlete or team, to climb the 331-foot State Tower building in downtown Syracuse to help raise funds to support pediatric cancer patients and their families.
“The Climb 2018” is a creation by On My Team16, a local Syracuse non-profit organization dedicated to comforting and supporting childhood cancer patients, families and caregivers by raising money through athletics. The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with all proceeds going toward pediatric cancer patients to help retain the essence and innocence of childhood with activities like athlete talks, sports-related hospital games, warmer blankets, comfier pillows and beds, knitting and pottery classes, a “pen pal” system between children at different hospitals, children outside hospitals and professional athletes, goodie bags and musical performances.
The team raises money as fans sponsor and donate toward their favorite team, athlete or coach — like a Fantasy League for charity. Each of the 20 floors climbed are represented by a pediatric oncology patient OMT16 has connected with.
Registration for “The Climb 2018” is $30 and every participant that raises an extra $70 will receive an event shirt and medal. Participants can walk or run, and all will be timed. Prizes will be awarded for fastest female runner, fastest male runner, fastest female walker, fastest male walker and top event fundraiser.
One in 285
Each year in the U.S. there are an estimated 15,780 children who will be diagnosed with cancer before their 20th birthdays — or one in 285 children, according to the American Childhood Cancer Association.
In 2014, Jack Sheridan, a sophomore baseball pitcher at Christian Brothers Academy High School in DeWitt, became one of those children — he was 15 years old. Jack feared his athletic career was over, or if he would even survive.
On May 29 of that year, Jack’s sister Jordan Sheridan, now 22, of Syracuse, got a phone call telling her that her little brother, Jack, was just diagnosed with Leukemia — and she was tasked with breaking the news to her little sister Charlie. It was a day she would never forget — and it was the day she knew she would start a charity organization in her brother’s honor, supporting other kids and families coping with pediatric cancer.
“It took a while for us all to process it and how we were going to deal with it as a family,” said Jordan.
At first, the pain of Jack’s diagnosis was too heavy to discuss, but Jordan felt the relief of its weight when she shifted her anxiety to promote awareness, describing how watching her brother transform his frustration and pain into dedication and motivation to help others like him was “awesome.”
“At first it was so hard to talk about, but then I realized how people need to talk about this,” she said. “I wanted to make sure every kid got the support they needed.”
Jordan Sheridan officially founded OMT16 earlier this year while living in Boston, but soon returned to Syracuse to be closer to its roots and interact more with local volunteers and patients. One of its most rewarding aspects is meeting other children with cancer and their families to show them “firsthand how the organization is helping them,” she said.
“It’s been awesome,” she said. “They are all really invested in events like this.”
The charity’s concept was inspired by the family’s love for athletics — something Jordan said goes hand-in-hand.
“I think athletes and cancer patients have a lot in common – they both have strong mental states and require strong regimes and routines they have to follow every day,” she said.
In just 107 days, the organization donated $7,138.39 to children and families affected by pediatric cancer — or nearly $67 a day. As of November 2018, the organization has raised a total of $34,657 for pediatric cancer patients — in less than a year.
“I am so proud of Jordan and her work, equally as proud of Jack and the fight he gave and the new perspective he has on things” said Jordan and Jack’s mother, Kim Sheridan, who works at Immaculate Conception Elementary School in Fayetteville. “Our family is blessed and better people because of this ‘gift’ of cancer he was given.”
And after three and a half years of treatment at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, Jack is now cancer-free and a freshman baseball player at Le Moyne College in Syracuse.
$20,000 and climbing
Inspired by a climbing charity event in Portland, Ore., for 60 flights of stairs, Kim Sheridan devised the idea of replicating the concept on a smaller scale — using the State Tower in Syracuse for its mountain-esque staircase, rented to the team free of charge.
This is the first time the team has held an event like this — and it’s the most money they’ve raised for the charity to date.
On Nov. 1, the event had raised $19,578 — less than 24 hours later it climbed to $20,706 — $706 over its goal. But Jordan Sheridan’s personal goal? $40,000.
“Everybody laughed at me at first,” she said, but now, the total is anxiously checked every day to see how much more they can raise before Nov. 17.
“It’s a ton of money we can do things with,” she said. “Every little bit counts.”
Opening ceremonies for “The Climb 2018” begin at 10 a.m. and a Syracuse University vs Notre Dame football watch party at The Saltine Warrior will be held after the event. Each participant over 21 will receive a drink ticket and all will receive free food.
For more information, or to register for “The Climb 2018,” visit Onmyteam16.com. For questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.