Many parents feel concerned about their kids playing football, but for the Kennedy family, the game changed their lives. Brian Kennedy was born without his right arm, but that’s never stopped him from chasing his dreams.
“We went to Charleston and [the doctors] told us that he wouldn’t be able to crawl like a normal kid, or do a lot of things a normal kid would,” Brian’s mother, Kim, said. “I told my husband, ‘I’m not letting these clowns hold him back.”
Brian’s parents always encouraged him to pursue all of his favorite activities. When he was a kid Brian tried tee-ball, karate, hunting, etc, but Brian always wanted to play football like his friends.
“”It’s a free ticket to hit people without getting in trouble for it,” Brian said.
When he enetred 8th Grade, Brian decided to do something about it. It was a decision that would later save his life.
“He went behind our back last year and signed up for it and made the football team,” Kim said. “He came home and told us, there’s nothing you can do about it now.”
So Brian spent his 8th Grade year playing football at Oceana Middle School under Head Coach Herbie Halsey.
“Brian’s a great kid, a lot of spunk, a lot of desire and he’s just one of those kids that you can’t keep down,” Coach Halsey said.
Earlier this year, Brian continued playing – Now for the Westside Renegades, again under Head Coach Herbie Halsey. A few weeks in to the season, Brian ran in to some more complications.
“He got hurt in practice, he didn’t tell anybody about it, and I think he began to spit up some blood,” Coach Halsey said.
“I got nailed by the whole defense, and I was coughing up blood and stuff,” Brian said. “The only one that noticed it was Tanner Workman. He asked me if I was alright, and I said Yeah, I’m good.”
“I said well why didn’t you come and tell me,” Kim said. “He said, well I know how you and Daddy are – you’ll take me off the team. I said, yeah, I would’ve taken you off if I had know this was what was going to happen.”
“A week later, Doctors found a small mass between Brian’s colon and appendix. It was Cancer.
“The Doctor told us, this is a good thing. I said, how do you get that,” Kim said. “He said when he got hit, it twisted him and it caused the mass to be enflamed… that’s what made it come up on the MRI so good.”
Throughout the whole process, Brian found out what being a part of a team really meant. The Renegades carried his jersey on to the field during every game that he missed during his treatments, and Kim says the support was over-whelming.
“Oh I cried! I’m telling you. I said that is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen anybody do,” Kim said. “I wrote those boys and I told them God has blessed you boys with a good heart.”
Brian is now cancer-free. Kim says the doctors removed everything in a surgery back in September. Brian will now spend the rest of the season on the sidelines with his teammates, but he told me he can’t wait to join his brothers on the field next season.
“You grow a brotherhood out of football… I got a lot of good friends out of it from last year. I’m gaining more now,” Brian said.
The Westside Renegades (4-2) head in to week 8 of their season where they’ll host the Nicholas County Grizzlies (4-2). Kick off is set for 7:30 at the Burial Ground in Clear Fork, WV. Brian will definitely be on the sidelines, and Kim says she’ll never miss a game.