Friday Night Locker Room’s Orville Susong and Steve Wilson to Support Pediatric Cancer in September at Prep Football Games
By Steve Wilson // August 31, 2023
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – In 2012, President Barack Obama declared the month of September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. He did so to bring awareness to pediatric cancer.
During the month of September, my broadcasting partner, Orville Susong and I will be joining those that hold special pediatric cancer events. At each of our five Friday night football broadcasts during the month, we will be recognizing and honoring one young person that has had, or is currently, battling cancer.
Of the five very special young people that will be recognized, two are no longer with us.
■ Ryan Narey, from Rockledge, died of cancer in 2002. He was an outstanding athlete with everything in the world going for him.
■ Brittany Beyel, a precious eight-year-old, died in 2008 of cancer. Her name lives on through Brittany’s Wish, a non-profit that supports families dealing with pediatric cancer.
■ Vivian Sleeth, an eight-year-old from Rockledge was diagnosed in 2022 with DIPG, which is a rare form of brain cancer. She is a true warrior fighting the fight.
■ Olivia Owens, from Palm Bay, is also battling DIPG. Olivia, like Vivian, continues her courageous battle against DIPG.
■ Bailey Moody, a senior at the University of Alabama, lost her leg to cancer at the age of 10. She grew up playing basketball and did not let cancer stop her from the sport she loves. Bailey continued playing basketball by participating in wheelchair basketball leagues and has represented the USA multiple times, including the 2020 Tokyo Summer Paralympic Games, earning the bronze medal.
Honoring pediatric cancer patients in September is something Orville and I started a few years ago and means a great deal to both of us. The first thing we do is contact the parents for permission.
That is all we need from them. At each of our games, the name of the honoree will be on our screen throughout the broadcast. We put together a short video with images of our honoree that will be played before, during and after the game.
Orville and I first became involved with pediatric cancer issues in 2013, when 13-year-old Merritt Island resident Julie Spurlock was diagnosed with cancer. Julie ultimately defeated cancer…. twice, and is doing well. She will always have certain health issues to deal with because of the disease and treatment, but she is still with us!
Orville and I both know way too many young people that have had to battle this disease, and that is just in Brevard County alone. According to the Center for Disease and Control Prevention, approximately 15, 000 children younger than 20 years-old are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States.
It’s time for us as a society to step up and do something about it. Pediatric cancer is woefully underfunded at the national level with only 4% of all federal funding for cancer research going to childhood cancer.
Our thought process is, if there is anything we can do to help bring awareness to pediatric cancer; we will. You can watch our prep football broadcasts each Friday night on Space Coast Daily starting at 7 p.m.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Steve Wilson was born in DeRidder, Louisiana and grew up in both New Orleans and Macon, Georgia. He moved to Brevard County in 1984 and retired from local government as the Community Advocate/Assistant to the City Manager with the City of Rockledge in 2018.
Among the awards and accolades Steve has received over the years are 15 + year Rockledge Little League volunteer, Brevard Public School Jefferson Award Recipient, Rockledge High School Raider Booster Award 2001, 2006, City of Rockledge Employee of the Year 2006, Rockledge Kiwanian of the Year 2006-2007, City of Rockledge Quality Public Service Award 2008, 2012, 2017, Rockledge Kiwanis Citizen of the Year 2012-2013, Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame – Sportscasting 2015, Rockledge High School Leadership and Service Award 2016, Central Florida Humanitarian Award 2017, Space Coast Inspiration Award – 2018 and Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame – Lifetime Achievement – 2020.
Wilson is especially proud of is chairing two fundraisers in support of pediatric cancer research through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in honor of Merritt Island resident Julie Spurlock that raised over $25,000.00.
He has been a partner, along with Orville Susong, for the past 24 years with the Friday Night Locker Room, a broadcasting team that covers and reports on a wide variety of local events that are of significance to the residents of the Space Coast and beyond. Their mission is to promote youth sports, support first responders and law enforcement personnel, and showcase community and charitable events that are produced by our nonprofit partners in central Florida.
The Friday Night Locker Room has awarded hundreds of sports achievement plaques to Brevard County student-athletes over the years. They have also awarded more than $18,000 in academic scholarships to Brevard County high school seniors.