Kennedy Hubbard stood atop a huge pile of sand, grinning from ear to ear. The huge mounds of sand at Jeff Young Memorial Park will be part of two sand volleyball courts Hubbard, volunteers, the Moorestown Parks and Recreation Department, and the town are building in her honor.
The sport of volleyball saved her life, she feels. Hubbard was born with lymphatic malformation – a mass of fluid-filled cysts around her mouth and jaw – and was unable to play youth sports growing up. But with her doctor’s permission, and under a watchful eye from her mother, she played volleyball all four years of high school.
She wanted to give back to the sport which gave so much to her, so through her foundation, Kennedy’s Cause, Hubbard and her family teamed up with the recreation department and the township to get it done. Kennedy’s Cause has raised thousands of dollars by selling t-shirts, bracelets, car magnets and more which are stamped with her personal motto, “Shine.” The money helps fund research for possible cures and better treatments for the disease and also comes to the aid of other sick children and their families, regardless of their disease or disability.
“It’s really actually saved me the past couple of years and given me the support group that I can only imagine,” said Hubbard, 17, who graduated recently from Moorestown High School and will attend Stockton University where she’ll play volleyball.
“We’re super-excited,” said Kennedy’s mother Leanne. “We had been talking about it the past few years, saying how awesome it would be to have sand courts. It’s kept her healthy. It’s kept her mind healthy. They warned us that in high school she could become depressed or suicidal. Because of volleyball, it’s given her so much. We really wanted to give back to the community.”
Kennedy’s disorder occurs in one of every 12,000 births. (She) has had a tracheostomy tube since she was six months old, and while they currently have it capped and there are no surgeries in her near future, she’s still on medications which have helped keep her healthy over the years.
“I’ve gotten over things and I’m just living life the way I want to right now,” said Hubbard, who will follow her sister Casey with playing volleyball for Stockton. “I’m excited. I’ve learned so many things from (volleyball) and have been able to meet so many great people through it.”