DALLAS (July 7, 2012) - If you could have one wish granted, anything in the world, what would it be?
For Tim Vorenkamp, a member of the 949 16s team in the USA Volleyball Boys’ Junior National Championships (BJNC) 16 Club Division competing in Dallas, that wish is to go to the London Olympics, and for him that wish is coming true.
Thanks to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Vorenkamp, 15, will be heading to the 2012 London Olympics to hang out with the U.S. Olympic Men’s Volleyball Team.
“I was 13 when I found a lump on my leg while I was playing for Orange County Volleyball Club (OCVC),” Vorenkamp said. “I found out shortly after that it was stage 3 cancer and a month later I had it removed.”
The rare form of cancer, so rare that only four people in the U.S. get diagnosed each year, has a 40 percent chance of coming back. Though chemotherapy and radiation are complete, the thought of going through the cancer cycle again is very real for Vorenkamp and his family.
“There are no words to describe how painful it is to hear that your child has cancer,” his mother Petra Vorenkamp said with tears in her eyes. “When you hear that word, cancer, your mind immediately goes to death.”
Now, a year cancer free, Vorenkamp is back playing volleyball. He changed clubs and now plays up an age group, determined to make the national team one day.
“I missed my entire eighth-grade year,” Vorenkamp said. “I was cleared after graduation and the first thing I wanted to do was play volleyball. I started talking to my high school coach at JSerra Catholic High School and got back in the gym. I built my skills back up and made varsity my freshman year.”
Though he missed his eighth grade year due to treatment, Vorenkamp was able to skip that academic level and join his classmates in high school.
“I was fortunate to recover quickly,” Vorenkamp said. “My hair grew back much quicker than they expected and I started feeling better.”
After going through such a fast and traumatic experience, Vorenkamp credits volleyball and his dream to be on the national team one day to keeping his spirits up as well as connected to his friends.
“I love playing and I love the people,” Vorenkamp said. “Through treatment I just kept thinking that in a year I would be with my friends again and back on the court.”
Now with the 949 club of the Southern California Region, Vorenkamp has made a new start on the court and has gained tremendous support from his family and the entire club. With help from them all, Vorenkamp stayed positive throughout the cancer cycles. However, his mother credits him for the family’s strength.
“His strength comes from a deep place,” Petra said. “He stayed so positive the entire time. It was truly an inspiration to us all. The process is draining. He would go 10 days without being able to see anyone, five days without eating, sleeping for 28 hours and then a week later he would have to do it all over again. For a kid that is in an indescribable situation, he always reminded us that he was going to fight and stay strong.”
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is giving Vorenkamp an opportunity of lifetime by flying him and his family to London for a week of Olympic action.
“We haven’t been told any details yet,” Petra said. “On July 14 we will get the itinerary and figure out exactly what we will be doing.”
“It is going to be so amazing,” Vorenkamp said. “My dream is to be on the national team, so being able to meet them at the Olympics and watch them play at that level is unbelievable. They said that it is one of the biggest wishes that they have ever granted.”
For months now Vorenkamp has been giving speeches for various cancer foundations. He speaks in hospitals, to groups and with children going through similar situations.
“I just want to help. That is what I love to do,” Vorenkamp said. “When you are going through a situation like cancer and everything is bad news, hearing a survivor’s story can really give you the motivation that they need to get through that day. It shows that it is possible to keep going.”
Vorenkamp will have to continue screenings for a good part of his life to make sure that the cancer does not come back. He has accepted that this is part of him and that his fight is not over. With the support from his family, his club and the opportunity from Make-A-Wish he promises to do everything he can to help kids like him.
“He will always have cancer,” Petra said. “It will be something that will always be part of him. His positive attitude and goal of becoming a national team athlete is his motivation every day. His father, Pieter and I truly believe that he is determined to make that team and that he will do it one day.”
“I have all the support in the world so I will do my part to make sure I live up to my potential on and off the court,” Vorenkamp said.
The U.S. Men’s National Team has a strong connection to the Make-A-Wish and has been granting wishes from children for years through the Foundation. Read previous releases of when the men’s team was part of a child’s wish.