(SACRAMENTO)

Sacramento Republic FC may not have triumphed against LA Galaxy II on Sept. 26, but the team is still a winner in the eyes of children with cancer and their families. UC Davis Health is sponsoring Sacramento Republic FC for an 8th season in a row and last week’s matchup marked the culmination of Childhood Cancer Month.

Sacramento Republic FC and UC Davis Health worked together during the month of September to raise awareness about pediatric cancer. After accidents, cancer is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14.

Children with cancer find the care they need at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center and a video, shown at the game, spotlighted one such success story. Riley Blum, 13, from Wilton, was diagnosed last year with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, also known as ALL. This year, he’s back out on the soccer field practicing with his team.

Videovideo iconHuggie

Riley’s UC Davis primary care nurse Tina Schmidt said she bonded with him quickly after noticing he was wearing a San Juan Soccer Club jersey, which is the same soccer club her son was in. That led to a realization that they both shared a love of Sacramento Republic FC.

“Tina is the greatest primary care nurse anyone could ask for,” said Riley during the interview for the video.

The UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center's pediatric oncology program provides diagnosis and management of all forms of pediatric cancer and pediatric blood disorders. Patients have access to an extensive range of clinical trials of new therapies and management of long-term treatment effects.

“We take care of children with cancer the same way we would like our families to be taken care of,” said Marcio Malogolowkin, chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology.

Riley’s parents, Molly and Jason Blum, are also featured in the video. They talk about all the different areas of UC Davis Health where Riley has received care—starting with his pediatrician at the primary clinic in Folsom, then the emergency department, the PICU and the cancer center.

Videovideo iconHuggie with a Sac Republic Player

“It feels like you have a team of brainiacs, looking at your situation and figuring out the best solution,” Molly Blum said.

Riley’s story is one of several that Sacramento Republic FC is highlighting on its website as a way of helping fans to connect and learn more about the impact of childhood cancers. Other stories include a video on UC Davis facility dogs and their unique role helping young pediatric patients cope with cancer.  There’s even a video showing UC Davis facility dog Huggie visiting on the field, hugging Sacramento Republic FC players and staff and giving sloppy kisses!

Sacramento Republic FC encourages fans to donate to the childhood cancer fight. This year, contributions are supporting the life-changing work at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center through the new Super Fritz & Friends Fund. The fund will create a new pediatric resource specialist position at the cancer center to partner with social workers in addressing the issues families face, including the psychosocial needs of young patients and their families.

Related stories

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: Q&A with Dr. Marcio Malogolowkin

The Breakaway: A Republic FC Podcast with UC Davis Health Pediatric Hematologist-Oncologist Dr. Marcio Malogolowkin