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Men's Sports

WILLIAMS: Let’s honor Ava one more time

It is time that we finish the job.

About five years ago, I told you guys the story of my friend Ava, then a cancer survivor who was seven years old and growing up to be an amazing young woman.

Heartbreakingly, Ava’s journey came to a tragic end on Monday afternoon. Just two days before her 12th birthday, that senseless disease took Ava’s life.

It is impossible to know what to say in a situation like this. I literally talk for a living and cannot find appropriate words to even attempt to comfort her family. Ava’s parents, Kris and Joni, are two of my closest friends (and neighbors) and at this very moment I don’t know what to say.

There are no words.

This is the God’s honest truth: When I go out to “sell” Cyclone Fanatic advertising to clients, I sell our community. Any media outlet in central Iowa can offer an audience. But I can honestly say that I do not believe there is a stronger COMMUNITY in the state of Iowa than what we have here at Cyclone Fanatic. You might be able to be “seen” by a larger audience elsewhere, but nowhere else will you find a more engaged group of amazing people who want to support all that is right in this world.

Since I first told you about Ava, we have raised over $15,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation (an organization created to specifically fight pediatric cancer) in her honor.

When Ava was diagnosed with her latest bout vs. cancer (last August), you all raised over $25,000 for her family to use however they wished – which resulted in mom and dad being able to spend precious time with their daughter during her greatest times of need.

This is what this is all about. Not the Cy-Hawk football game. Not a Sweet 16 berth.

Listen, I love sports. I love the Cyclones. I wake up every morning incredibly passionate about media and marketing. But THIS type of stuff – connecting with people and being fortunate enough to have a voice to lead our community (to make the world a better place) is why I do what I do. I can honestly tell you all that the day we stop doing stuff like this here at Cyclone Fanatic is the day that I will walk away.

Your favorite Iowa State personalities like Jamie Pollard, Bill Fennelly, Steve Prohm and Matt Campbell say it all of the time, that “Iowa State is a special place.”

It’s special because of the people. That’s you guys, – the Fanatics. You all have shown this young lady and her family – TOTAL STRANGERS to most of you – so much love over the years. It’s inspiring to me – life-changing, really.

Last Sunday, while we were awaiting the inevitable, I told Ava’s parents the following: “Your daughter has positively impacted more people in 11 years than most people do in an entire lifetime.”

I can attest to this. When my wife and I moved across the street from the Hutchisons in July of 2011, I was a selfish punk who had zero perspective on what really mattered in life.

Since then, I have been blessed with an amazing daughter of my own. I still have a long ways to go, but I have grown as a Christian and man.

What sticks out the most though is watching my friends live through hell on earth – that’s losing a child. I watched Ava fight for her life until the very end with a positive attitude the entire way. There wasn’t a selfish bone in her body. Ava only cared about others. We should all strive to be more like her.

She is my hero and someone we can all learn so much from even after she is gone.

So here’s the deal: Since I first told you all about Ava’s courage, you have done nothing but support her cause. On Saturday, her family will lay Ava to rest and I am calling on the Cyclone Nation to finish the job in her honor.

In addition to creating beautiful crafts, dressing up and spending time with her family, Ava’s favorite thing to do was attend camp.

This is where my friends at the Children’s Cancer Connection come into play. Ava’s family is requesting donations to this AMAZING group in lieu of flowers in her honor. It costs $400 to send a sick child to camp.

My goal is to raise $5,000 in Ava’s honor.

I’m asking for more from you all because I know that our community has so much more good to give. Please share this with your friends in family. Let’s share it on social media. Let’s make Ava proud, just as she has done for all of us since I first introduced you to her story five years ago.

Let’s finish the job.

#StrenthForAva.