To know Derek Sparks is to know that he has a habit of turning trials into triumph. This season, he is fighting his hardest battle yet: conquering Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer.
His remarkable football talents landed him in front of recruiters in high school, taking him to a successful career as a running back at his beloved alma mater, Washington State. When the former Cougar had his career cut short due to a series of injuries, his focus naturally shifted to empowering youth through sports. Now a high school administrator and assistant coach at NCAA Division III Pacific Lutheran University, Sparks has continued to use his knowledge of the game, both on and off the field, to help athletes navigate their own way into college sports. Naturally then, when his own daughter, Ze’Lee, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2018, Derek turned to what he knows best: football, and organized a charity all-star game in December of 2018, calling the event Cleats vs. Cancer. His intent was two-fold: showcase high school seniors to college coaches while raising awareness and money for fellow families battling childhood cancer. The event immediately caught on and has continued to thrive since, with Derek at the helm.
Derek has spent his lifetime devoted to service and helping others. Now it's our time to help him. It's time for all of us to rise up to the challenge and raise funds to help him win his hardest battle yet by helping alleviate some of the financial stress he is under.
The money raised from this campaign will all go directly towards assisting Derek pay medical-related expenses, and bills while he cannot work, and his family traveling back and forth from Seattle to help care for him.
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