'I will never give up on her' - Lacrosse event raises funds in honor of 12-year-old who died of cancer
About 180 Long Island children took part in a sports event in Rockville Centre to honor a young girl who died of cancer.
Mary Ruchalski passed away in 2018 when she was 12 years old from a rare form of pediatric cancer. Her mother, Carol Ruchalski, says she had a passion for sports.
“She was just a really wonderful child. And she loved to play sports, she loved to be on a team,” she says. “She was athletic, she was friendly, she was kind. She was studious."
Mary’s family created the Play 4 Mary event at the Rockville Centre Sports Complex in her memory to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer. Lacrosse games for children were scheduled June 27-29.
Cara Urbank, a co-organizer of the event, says she thought of Mary when she played the lacrosse in college.
"Every time I stepped on the field, I kind of thought of her, and had the opportunity to play when other kids didn't,” she says.
Urbank says they are teaching these kids to play with the heart and passion as Mary.
“This opportunity, never take it for granted. Play with as much heart and passion and fun as you can, is what we're really trying to instill in them,” she says.
Ruchalski says Mary continues to keep her community, friends and family inspired.
“She told us not to give up on her, and I will never give up on her. I will, till my last breath, help raise funds for pediatric cancer,” she says.
All proceeds of the event will go to pediatric cancer research. If you want to donate to Mary’s Foundation, click here.