Diagnosed with melanoma over three years ago, the late Ludington resident Will Flewelling wanted to help families who were in similar situations as he was. Flewelling, a 2019 Ludington High School graduate was diagnosed while in high school and he was an active member of the LHS soccer team.
“Will wanted to make a difference more than what he was already doing as he was going through his battle,” Will’s cousin, Kyle Gurzynski, said. “And Will brought up the idea of let’s do a soccer tournament, because that’s what his passion was and what he did all through high school and all through his childhood as well. So he wanted to make a bigger impact than what he was already doing with his lemonade stands.”
Will was one of the recipients of the Childhood Cancer Campaign, a nonprofit group established by Tom and Patricia Ezdebski to help families with the ongoing financial unknowns brought about when a child is diagnosed with cancer.
After many rounds of treatment, Flewelling’s cancer continued to cause issue, ultimately ending his life last year at the age of 20. Before he passed away, Flewelling knew he wanted to do something to pay it forward to honor those who had helped him and his family and to give back to assist those who would need help in the future.
“So things accelerated very fast,” Will’s mom, Jennifer Flewellng said. “And as he was progressing in his sickness, he just felt compelled more and more and more to spend time to try to help other people.”
Because soccer played such a large role in his life, Flewelling came up with the idea to host a soccer tournament to raise money for the Childhood Cancer Campaign. Flewelling’s cousin, Kyle Gurzynski decided to run with the idea, along with Flewelling’s help. Although Flewelling passed away, May 31, 2021 before the June event, Gurzynski pushed forward and held the event, raising over $40,000.
“So the funds go to the Childhood Cancer Campaign and that was something that Will is extremely passionate about,” Gurzynski said. “He wanted to make a difference in the lives of people that came after him who were going through that struggle, not only him personally, but the families involved. But he also wanted to make sure that this event carried on in soccer.”
This will be the second year for the #WILLSTRONG Soccer Tournament, benefitting the Childhood Cancer Campaign. The event will be at 9 a.m., August 6 at the Bryant Road soccer fields in Ludington. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Players interested in playing can sign up for $25 each and they must be at least 14 years old.
“We would just love to see everybody just come out that wants to just make a difference,” Jennifer said. “If you if you can donate, great, but even if you just want to be a part of the special day and just be here in memory of Will, he loved the game of soccer, but he also loved getting together with his friends and his family.”
For more information, visit the #WILLSTRONG Soccer Tournament Facebook page.
“He would not believe what this community has done and how they have raised money for the childhood cancer campaign in memory of him and helping the families and the kids that are fighting the battle right now,” Jennifer stated. “He would just be amazed because his goal was to raise $10,000 towards the childhood cancer campaign. And we sure exceeded that.”
To date, the #WILLSTRONG Soccer Tournament has raised over $100,000 and Childhood Cancer Campaign Co-Chairman, Tom Ezdebski knows that Wil still has a hand in helping the funds and the awareness grow.
“So, you know, a little guilt there that they’ve done more for us than we’ve done for them,” he said. “But it drives us, I can guarantee you. Things have changed so much for the program in the last year since Will’s passing. I mean, it seems like, you know, Will’s up there watching over us and everything that we’ve done.”