Five-year-old Killian Owen was like many other boys his age. The green-eyed little blonde loved playing any kind of sport: baseball, basketball and swimming were among his favorites. He and his twin brother, Garrett, enjoyed playing and competing together.
And then, on December 10, 1999, Killian was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, the most common (and curable) type of childhood cancer.
Killian fought hard. From chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, to an experimental targeted treatment at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
One of his brother’s coaches was so moved by Killian’s brave fight, he asked the team to forego the customary end-of-season gift. Instead, he asked that a donation be made to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where Killian was being treated.
Despite the best efforts of those caring for Killian and his own determination, the leukemia’s intense hold was too strong. It took his life on July 27, 2003. He was nine years old.
One year later, Killian’s mother, Grainne Owen, adapted the coach’s idea and created Coaches Curing Kids Cancer.
Now, youth sports teams all over the country participate by making donations in honor of their coaches. Inspired by her son’s battle, Grainne has turned Curing Kids Cancer into an effective nonprofit dedicated to funding cutting-edge treatments of childhood cancers—treatments that can save the lives of children like Killian.