By Jenna Perlman
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- In his eight years, Jamarie Lang has fought more battles than most people will fight in their lifetime.
When he was three years old, Jamarie was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Two years later, his family got some good news: the cancer in his kidneys was gone. But worst news followed. The cancer had spread to his lungs.
But Jamarie is now cancer free and making up for lost time by doing things he wasn’t able to do while he was receiving treatment. On Saturday, he was one of 80 pediatric cancer patients turned loose to play games and enjoy activities with more than 120 UF student-athletes, along with cheerleaders and Dazzlers, at a sports camp sponsored by Climb for Cancer.
Ron Farb, an avid mountain climber, and wife Dianne staged the eighth annual Brandon Ling Memorial Sports Camp at sports venues across the UF campus, all in the name of raising money to treat children, like Jaramie, stricken with the disease.
“This is his third year coming, and it means a lot to him,” said Jeremy Lang, who is Jamarie’s older brother. “He comes out here and has fun and sees what they [UF athletes] experience.”
While Jamarie ran around the practice football field with UF running Mark Herndon, passing and learning to tackle, Jeremy looked on from the sideline with a smile plastered across his face.
The smile was different, even deeper, than those of the other families who cheered as their children played. Jeremy Lang, 22, is in the Army and recently returned from deployment.
“It means a lot to me to be here with him,” Lang said. “When I was in Germany, he was going through treatment, so it means a lot to come back and see that he is still alive and still able to be active.”
The Florida volleyball team had matches Friday and Sunday, yet carved out time Saturday for some morning bumping, spiking and setting with the kids.
“It’s really nice for us to be able to give them a good time where they can come here, have fun and just play,” sophomore volleyball said Ziva Recek said.
Play stations were set up at the O'Connell Center, the soccer and lacrosse stadiums, plus the basketball complex.
There are few very things college students will get up to do at 8 a.m. on a Saturday when the temperature barely reaches 50 degrees.
Clearly, spending time with children who are fighting cancer is one of them.
“It’s awesome,” said Justin Thompson whose 10-year-old daughter Zoie was diagnosed with leukemia seven years ago. “We love coming here. The way the students help out with all of the kids is a lot of fun and makes them feel really special.”