#DanniStrong is a trending motto for the SHU softball team that will not be soon forgotten.
For 19-year-old Danielle Kemp, it seemed simple. In early July, she was hit by a pitch in the helmet while at bat, playing for the Stratford Brakettes, a summer league softball team in Connecticut. She thought nothing of it.
A few weeks later she started experiencing balance troubles, issues focusing and dizziness. Then she thought that she may have had a concussion.
Rather, after her MRI, she and her family were informed that she had a cancerous brain tumor in the Pons region of the brain, making it inoperable due to its location.
She has since received radiation therapy for the tumor and will continue to receive treatment afterwards for five days a week for at least six weeks. However, the team of doctors, Kemp and her family are still looking for ways to find new treatments. Many who want to help out are looking for ways to donate and help the Kemp family offset any costs.
One of those people is Seton Hall softball player Valerie Suto. She was Kemp’s teammate and friend on the Brakettes, and has a strong relationship with the family. Already, she and the whole Seton Hall team have light blue bracelets with the phrase ‘#DanniStrong’ on it. They are available for a $2 donation to the cause.
“I knew about it because I’m good friends with Danni and I had seen everything that had been happening, coming from her social media,” Suto said. “After the diagnosis, her uncle set up a GoFundMe page and a support group on Facebook, and I was looking to help out any way I could.”
Kemp has received a generous amount of support from her summer league teammates, her college team at Stony Brook University and countless others looking to help out with the cause.
Through 28 days of the GoFundMe page, more than 1,330 people have donated a collective amount of over $108,800 to the cause. The family had reached their original goal of $100,000, but because of the level in money attained on the page, they set a new goal of $150,000, according to Suto.
“She has a ton of people supporting her,” Suto said. “Since everyone plays for different teams, they have all gotten their own schools or travel teams on board, and every little bit helps her pay for medical expenses.”
The story and the cause have been picked up by news outlets across the area. Suto and the team are planning on more community outreach for the cause, as coach Paige Smith knows her through Stony Brook.
“Coach Smith said she was really interested in trying to help Danni out, so I went through the Brakettes organization to buy the team bracelets,” Suto said. “I have mine on all of the time, and some of my teammates have been wearing them since they got them, and when we wear them we look unified supporting the cause. We may try to do a clinical or a fundraiser in the future.”
Seton Hall and Stony Brook play each other in the spring, and Suto added that there may be something interesting in store for the game, especially if Kemp were to attend.
Those who wish to donate can visit gofundme.com/DanniStrong.
Matt Lamb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MattS_Lamb.