By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
On a cold rainy night in Ocean Township, the stands at the high school were filled with soccer fans for the 12th Annual Mya Cup. It is a soccer game that was organized 12 years ago by the Ocean Township High School girls’ varsity soccer team as a fundraiser for a young township girl that lost her battle with cancer.
Mya Lin Terry was born on October 23, 2007. When she was in kindergarten her teacher noticed that Mya’s neck looked swollen. Her parents immediately took her to the doctor and within a few hours she was admitted to the hospital for tests.
She was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, T-Cell Stage III. For two years, this young warrior underwent chemotherapy and radiation. In 2009, the family received devastating news. May was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) which is a rare form of cancer.
In 2009 Bill Galvin donated stem cells for a necessary transplant hoping to give May a chance to beat this horrible disease. Unfortunately, January 2011, Mya relapsed. The family decided to take her to the Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee where she started a research protocol. The new treatment proved to be too toxic for Mya’s little body and she suffered three organ failures (heart, lung and liver). September 12, Mya was transferred from Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch, to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Philadelphia for a second stem cell transplant, from an anonymous donor. The poor girl relapsed again and had to undergo a third stem cell transplant.
Mya, relapsed 60 days after that third transplant. She passed on April 10, 2013 after fighting hard for five and half years. Mya’s mantras, “Never Ever Give Up-N.E.G.U.!!! & Peace, Love, Happiness.”
Alex Pickett, Mya’s cousin, was one of the Spartan soccer players 12 years ago who organized the first Mya Cup. Today, Pickett is the head coach of the Lady Spartans and they hosted Matawan on Thursday night.
Kelly Terry, Mya’s mom, addressed the teams and crowds before the game. “I am also a graduate of Ocean Township High School and was a member of the girls’ varsity soccer team in the early 80’s,” said Terry. After the passing of Mya, The Mya Lin Terry Foundation was started to raise money for other pediatric cancer warriors in the community. “Pediatric cancer is not rare; 42 children are diagnosed in this county every day.”
Over the past 12 years, The Mya Lin Terry Foundation has gifted nearly $1.5 million to local families fighting the battle. This year two youngsters were getting the support from the foundation. “Leo and Jordan can’t be here tonight as they are both in active treatment,” said Terry.
Leo Botwin is a three-year-old who lives in Wayside with his parents, big brother and a new little sister who was born last week. In August, Leo was diagnosed with B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He is currently finishing up his first round of treatments, but has two more years of treatments to go.
Jordan Fitch II, known as JJ, is a five-year-old who lives with his grandparents in Ocean Township. December 2022 he was diagnosed with high risk, stage 4 Nuroblastoma. He is currently receiving his second stem cell treatment.
“I couldn’t do this without the help of my sister, Kasey Pickett, for ensuring and enabling this event to take place every year. I also have to thank Beth Conti for the amazing Mya Cup shirts every year,” said Terry. Both teams were gathered at midfield before the start of the game. “I ask for a moment of silence in memory and in honor of our beautiful warrior, Mya as well as Logan Parker, Augustus, Maggio and Matthew West, all four Ocean Township pediatric cancer angels. I also want to give our thoughts to Matawan High School soccer player Rylie Signorile, who lost her brother recently.”
As for the game, Ocean dominated Matawan taking a 6-0 win. The entire second half was played in a deluge, but neither team or the fans seemed to care about the rain. Five Spartans scored in the victory. Mia Fiorentino had two goals and one assist. Alex Foley, Isabella Santucci, Avery Ohara, and Sophia Mammano each had a goal.
Olivia DeGirolamo had two assists, Kaia Abbatiello, Erin Toppi and Jailyn Wells each had an assist for Ocean. In the goal was Grace Boudreau, who had a light night as she only had to make two saves. With the win, Ocean improved to 5-4 on the season while Matawan falls to 2-5.
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