Kristin Hoffman will only be able to walk the walk for a few hours at Northern Illinois' Relay for Life event next month.
Her success in talking the talk serves as a solid substitute.
Hoffman, the Huskies' sophomore setter and a Batavia graduate, already has helped raise her goal of $2,000 for the American Cancer Society six weeks before presenting it at the Convocation Center on April 16. She can only credit kindness, especially that from strangers.
"It's been amazing, truly amazing to see how many people care, people that I don't even know," Hoffman said. "Often times, you hear about the bad things and the bad people. When you can hear something good like this, it's refreshing."
Hoffman registered NIU volleyball as one of 55 donating teams in December, shortly after close friend Erin Potts died from Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare cancer in which tumors develop in the bone and soft tissue.
Potts was fighting the disease at the time Hoffman first met her three years ago, essentially entering as her replacement on the Western Springs-based First Alliance Club team. The pair built a rapport and relationship during Hoffman's visits to the hospital and became best friends.
They spoke the day before Potts' Dec. 18, 2009 death.
"Devastating," Hoffman said. "I couldn't believe it happened."
Experiences with First Alliance introduced Hoffman to Relay for Life, and she quickly worked to get the Huskies involved through NIU's event. Huskies freshmen Sam Grams and Sue Hayes also knew Potts, adding to the urgency of the new team project.
Contributions totaled $1,600 at week's end, but Hoffman said that with outside donations the team already would eclipse $2,000. That leaves plenty of time to "shatter" the mark. The Huskies plan to attend the event for as long as they can but will not be able to walk overnight and into the morning.
NIU is set to participate in a tournament at Northwestern on April 17.
Hoffman plans to stay through at least the luminaria, scheduled later in the night on April 16. The ceremony differs from place to place, but involves a presentation with lights to honor cancer victims and survivors.
"That's a truly powerful experience," Hoffman said. "You see how and why people are there. It brings everyone together for the purpose."
Note: Those interested in joining or assisting the Huskies' Relay for Life effort can visit their team page online at main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLFY10IL?pg=team&fr_id=22085&team_id=642080.
• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter Shaw Suburban Media. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.