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50 teams ready for Mya Strong Tournament

October 14, 2021 | Metro Sports Report


The Mya Strong softball tournament began as a modest gathering two years ago with only eight teams, but it’s quickly grown into a major event to honor an inspirational young lady and help raise money for her great cause with the Mya Strong Foundation.

Fifty teams will participate in the 3rd Annual Mya Strong girls softball tournament this Saturday and Sunday at Prospect Meadows with competition in five age groups.

The Mya Strong tournament is a tribute to Mya Gilchrist, a ninth grader at Alburnett who has waged a determined battle against cancer ever since she was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was only 18 months old.

Mya and her three sisters will be playing in the tournament this weekend, which will feature a lot of hugs and big smiles, along with the softball.

“I’m super-excited,” Mya said Wednesday. “To help raise more money for people that I love and know and for others that need it. I’m ready to celebrate the end of my treatment with a lot of softball players.”

All of the money raised this weekend is earmarked for the Mya Strong Foundation. More than $30,000 has been raised since the foundation began a few years ago. All proceeds are used to benefit other kids and families as they battle with cancer. None of the money goes to the Gilchrist family.

Anyone who’d like to contribute can visit their Venmo account: @MyaStrongFoundation.

Mya has undergone numerous years of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Through it all, she’s maintained an extremely positive attitude and a huge smile.

“I just always keep going, never give up,” she said. “There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Never give up. Keep going. Keep your mind going. And be happy.”

It was Mya’s idea to begin the foundation, especially after so many other people had been so kind to her family. She got the idea after receiving an unfavorable diagnosis.

“When I relapsed again, I thought it would be cool to make it into a foundation and raise money for others,” she explained. “And I thought it would be really cool and a fun experience to mix softball in with it, because that’s my favorite sport. Softball and raising money sounded like a good idea. It just happened to blend that way.”

The Foundation is donating $10,000 this year to the Camp Heart Connection, which is an oncology camp for kids just like Mya. The camp costs $5,000 per cabin which houses 10 kids, and the Foundation is sponsoring one oncology cabin and one sibling cabin.

Mya finished her latest round of chemo treatments in June. She said being sick “isn’t the greatest,” but remains as determined as ever.

“Mya has an amazing attitude,” said Brooke. “She never really complains about anything. And in general, she’s been in really good health.”

A few weeks ago doctors removed a blood clot in her heart. The procedure went well. “They were able to get the clot out and she’s feeling a lot better now,” her mother said.

Nothing seems to faze her.

“She’s always had that determination,” Brooke said. “She’s never given up on anything.”

Mya enjoys softball, piano, band, gymnastics and archery, despite early warnings from doctors that she might not be able to handle all that.

“We always saw more potential in her than maybe she thought or the doctors saw in her,” said Brooke. “And so we really pushed her when she was younger, when they said she would never walk normally, she would never be able to play sports, she may not talk normally. And we said, ‘We think she can do more.’

“She sets small goals for herself. And when people tell her ‘no’, that makes her even more determined and she’ll figure out a way.”

Never give up. Keep going. Be happy.

“She is amazing,” said Brooke. “Even on her bad days, she can always find something positive to be happy about and make her day better.”

Game times are from 8 AM-4 PM Saturday and 8 AM-2:30 PM Sunday. There is no admission charge but donations are welcomed.

Metro Sports Report