Hope Through Hollis
“Witnessing this entire struggle and fight Hollis and his family went through opened my eyes to just how little some people know about childhood cancer rates. Given our partnership with ERIC and involvement in the youth scene, it makes sense to use our platform for the first game to educate fans about DIPG and funding for childhood cancer.” – Justin Allen #1
As the Flyers kick off the 2017 AUDL season on April 1st we will be honoring a fan who is no longer able to take the field. Hollis Doherty was a sports enthusiast and Flyers fan who recently passed away due to a rare brain cancer, DIPG, in January 2017. In association with Early Recognition Is Critical (ERIC), the Flyers will be dedicating our home opener in remembrance of this young member of our Flyers Family.
Hollis Doherty (right) was diagnosed with DIPG in March 2016.
Hollis Doherty loved baseballs, footballs, basketballs, golf balls and more, even as a baby. He was definitely a huge fan of sports early on and he took to it right away. As Hollis got older, he learned how to win and how to lose. He learned what it’s like to put in lots of work and have things not turn out terrifically. And he learn what it felt like to show up — and then win. Hollis was a part of 3 championship teams in a span of one year. His youth baseball, flag football and basketball teams all won their age group titles. You talk about memories. Hollis or “H Town” as his teammates and coaches called him, wasn’t the greatest hitter or fastest running back or the most accurate sharpshooter on the court but he contributed, with his feisty Irish will, to his team and his cause. A ferocious competitor he was, up until his very last day on this earth.
On March 29th, 2016, after suffering unbearable headaches for roughly a week and a half, our beloved Hollis was diagnosed with DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma), an incurable, inoperable tumor that resided on his brain stem. There was no effective treatment and no chance of survival. Only 10% of children with DIPG survive for 2 years following their diagnosis, and less than 1% survive for 5 years. The median survival time is 9 months from diagnosis. Hollis lived 9 months and 3 days. And while his parents, Shane and Shawnee Doherty, tried to find ways to encourage Hollis to fight to get better when they knew he never would, Hollis owned his destiny. Sports gave him that outlet.
After 30 days of radiation treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, the Doherty family got on a plane in June of 2016 and flew to Cologne, Germany where Hollis would undergo immunotherapy treatment at the IOZK Clinic under the watchful care of Professor Stefaan Van Gool. Out of all of the treatments this world had to offer children affected with DIPG, this treatment offered the highest likelihood of gaining Hollis “The Most Best Days”, a mantra that the Doherty family and people from around the world stood by. The Doherty family would travel to Germany once a month for 7 to 10 days at a time to make sure Hollis would not suffer and live a life as full as a 7 year old could.
Two weeks before Hollis passed away on January 2nd, 2017, Hollis ran up and down the court with his Warriors teammates for 20 minutes, securing a win and helping them stay undefeated. He never ever let DIPG get the best of him. His will to fight and compete never ceased to amaze all of us. He truly was an inspiration, especially when it came to his infectious smile.
Hollis never really knew that DIPG would claim his life. Therefore, he didn’t have to undergo a myriad of emotions, immense shock and disbelief; feeling like he was living in a nightmare and wish he could just wake up from it. In his eyes, Hollis knew he was safe and secure in the loving arms of his Savior, Jesus Christ. When Shawnee and Shane prayed with Hollis every single night, one scripture resonated with their family. Psalm 73: 23-24 “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory”.
Today, just over one year to the day of his diagnosis, we reflect on the life of Hollis Doherty and seek to honor his life and his memory. If his life brings to mind many pleasant thoughts, his death also confronts us with some harsh realities. Faith is needed in all the circumstances in life, but it is never needed more than in the face of losing a child.
As our players take the field on April 1st they will be doing so with this young member of our community in their hearts. Each player will have a green heart with an H inside it written on their hand. We have partnered up with Early Recognition Is Critical to bring Hope Through Hollis, to Huck Cancer and continue raising awareness for cancer research. Early Recognition Is Critical will be hosting a middle school clinic prior to our game at WakeMed Soccer Park from 5:00-6:00 PM. Childhood cancer only receives 4% of total cancer funding and DIPG continues to operate at a <1% survival rate. Justin Allen will be donating his season salary and the Flyers will honor Hollis in our first game this season and pledge a donation to DIPG research. If you are interested in joining our Flyers Family in the battle against childhood cancer, please consider donating to Translational Genomic Research Institute. The Raleigh Flyers and the American Ultimate Disc League are proud to be taking up this cause in the fight against childhood cancer.