Team Caroline Ricky Christopher
Team Caroline, Ricky, Christopher is a team united by love for three children. It has been created to honor their lives and to eliminate forever the cause of their deaths.
In April 2007, 11 year old football player and lover of all sports, Ricky Knight, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, specifically a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). A GBM is an always deadly diagnosis, most victims surviving only eleven to fifteen months. The diagnosis was a shock. Ricky, a 5th grader at Rockburn Elementary School, was the picture of health. He was handsome, dark-haired, and full of energy and mischief. During the spring and summer of 2007, Ricky endured multiple brain surgeries, chemotherapy and 6 weeks of brain radiation. But true to his amazing spirit, he ended the summer enjoying the beach; began the 6th grade in September; and most thrilling for him, just five months after his diagnosis, was back on the field playing football for the Elkridge Hurricanes – the game and team he loved so much. Unfortunately, despite another surgery, and multiple chemotherapies, the tumor progressed with a vengeance. On June 2, 2008, at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Ricky passed away in his parents’ loving arms. He was just a few weeks shy of completing the 6th grade.He will be forever loved and missed.
Just around the corner from Ricky, in the same cul-de-sac where he played kickball, lived 13 year old Caroline Herrmann. In September 2007, five months after Ricky’s diagnosis and just as he was preparing to take the field again for his first football game, Caroline was also diagnosed at Johns Hopkins Hospital with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in her brain stem. Caroline was beginning the 8th grade, went to soccer practice the night before diagnosis and school that day. She had just enjoyed a fun-filled summer at Watermont Pool and summer swim team. Her braces were brand new and she was reading the first book in the Twilight series. Caroline loved to have fun – sleepovers, morning bagels with Clare and Kacy, trips to Connecticut for cousin fun, snow cones after practices, shooting baskets with her dad, and baking cookies for her brothers, Matthew and Patrick. She was ready for anything, anytime, and never refused an opportunity to have fun. She always kept a backpack ready for last minute sleepovers. During the year that she was sick, Caroline had brain surgery, 6 weeks of radiation, five different chemotherapies, and months of physical, speech and occupational therapy to correct the right-sided paralysis that resulted from the tumor. Caroline relearned to walk, talk and use her right hand again. Just seven months after her diagnosis she graduated from the 8th grade with her class, was walking in flip-flops, going to the pool, and even worked at the Snack Shack on the soccer fields where she had played soccer for so many years. Unfortunately, after making such tremendous progress, the tumor returned just as ninth grade at Mt. de Sales Academy was beginning. Caroline passed away at home in her bedroom, on December 9, 2008, with her mom, dad and Matthew and Patrick holding her hands and kissing her good bye. She will always be loved and missed.
As a 7th grader, the year before her diagnosis, Caroline participated in the “buddy program” at her school, Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Her first-grade buddy was little Kelly Sliker.
On February 14, 2009, Valentine’s Day and only two months after Caroline’s death, the unthinkable happened. Again. Kelly Sliker’s little brother Christopher, then 5 years old, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) in his brain stem. Like Caroline and Ricky before him, his diagnosis was dismal and carried a terrible prognosis – almost certain death within eleven months. Christopher was known to all as “the boy,” the youngest of three with two older sisters. He was proud of his spot in the family and adored his big sisters, Lauren and Kelly. He loved dancing for the camera, baking with his mom and playing catch with his dad. He loved the beach and visits with his cousins. He especially loved Star Wars and the Mets. And even though he was only 5, he had his own band of buddies to run with – assorted friends from preschool, the neighborhood, and his sisters’ friends’ younger siblings. Any occasion to get together with his buddies was cause for excitement - Christopher loved a party and especially loved party food. Christopher’s battle with DIPG was heartbreakingly short; he lived not quite six months after his diagnosis, enduring brain surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, right-sided weakness, and painful drug side effects. During those six months, however, he showed the world what a brave little boy he was, continuing to play, take family trips, have pizza and movie nights with his buddies and go to baseball games. Just the week before his death he was in Ocean City winning at miniature golf and sailing on the pirate ship. Christopher passed away at Johns Hopkins Hospital on August 8, 2009 in the loving arms of his mom, dad and sisters, Lauren and Kelly. He died just weeks before the start of kindergarten; he had so been looking forward to attending Our Lady of Perpetual Help School with his sisters. Christopher, too, will be forever loved and missed.
Our small community reeled in shock and grief. All three families attend Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. Ricky and Caroline lived in the same neighborhood, only six houses apart; and Christopher lived less than a mile away. We have many, many friends and neighbors in common.
Once again, these three families have come together, to rally the support of our families, friends and community to raise money for brain tumor research so that this does not ever happen to another child, another family, another community again. In 2012, Team Caroline raised over $10,000. Since then, our team has grown in members and funds raised every year as we participated first in the Washington, DC Race for Hope and then in the Baltimore Brain Tumor Walk and now the Maryland Brain Tumor Walk. With your continued support, Team Caroline, Ricky, Christopher can raise even more. Please help us to honor our children’s memories and put an end to this terrible, heartbreaking disease.
National Brain Tumor Society is fiercely committed to finding a cure for brain tumors. They are aggressively driving strategic research and advocating for public policies that meet the critical needs of the brain tumor community. Your support ensures this important work will continue.