Kennedy Cunningham: The Little Warrior
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Kennedy Cunningham: The Little Warrior
By "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr., Doghouse Boxing (July 25, 2014)

Keneddy and Steve Cunningham
Kennedy and Steve Cunningham
“No matter what, your child is going to die far too soon.” That is a phrase that no parent should ever have to hear concerning their child. But, that is exactly what was told to the former cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham and his wife Livvy, concerning their eight year old daughter Kennedy. Steve fights his battles in the ring, their precious child Kennedy fights her battle throughout everyday life.

At birth Kennedy was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which is a rare congenital heart defect in which the left ventricle of the heart is severely underdeveloped. If untreated, it is fatal. So at just two days old, when most babies are being held and loved on by the mother and father, Kennedy had open heart surgery, and her second surgery at six months old. While most children go home to their family, she was in the hospital the first year of her life. And now she requires continuous medication through an IV line connected to her back pack.

As most children grow, they will have their share of bumps and bruises, in the eight years that Kennedy has graced this world, she has suffered a stroke, numerous blood infections and had a trach in her throat for several years. Children with the illness has to undergo various stages of surgeries just to make it to adult hood, but for the third surgery, the Cunningham’s were informed that due to the extent of defects and anatomy of her little heart, Kennedy would not get the lifesaving surgery. It would have to be a heart transplant for her.

At the Children’s Hospital in their hometown of Philadelphia, Kennedy went through the evaluation process for the heart transplant, but the Cunningham’s hopes were shattered this past March, when Kennedy was denied candidacy for the procedure, followed by, “all you can do is give your daughter medicine to help with her heart function, but, there will come a time when her heart will give out and there is nothing you can do.”

Steve’s wife said this upon hearing the dreadful heartbreaking news, "My world collapsed. I cried for three days straight while I tried to wrap my head around the news and tried to figure out how to live without the hope of a beautiful future for our beautiful daughter, tried to picture our lives without her. I just couldn't, it was impossible.”

I have had the pleasure of knowing Steve since he was an undefeated prospect and follow his career all the way to a championship title. I swear there is no quit in that man, nor his family. And I feel his can do attitude comes from his solid faith in Jesus Christ. They are a well-grounded family. So the prayers from the Cunningham family was answered recently when they received the news Kennedy was accepted into the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s program to receive a heart transplant.

Steve, who was in the middle of camp at the time of the news said this, "I'll never forget the day I got the call from my wife with the news, I broke down like never before, I lost it.”

Going into his heavyweight bout against the then undefeated heavyweight Amir Mansour, Steve was told by many to pull out of the fight, but instead, Steve decided to fight on, “I knew that I had to fight for Kennedy, she has been through so many battles in her life and has never once given up and I was not going to let her see her father quit. I turned my sadness and fear into determination and on fight night, I had to dig deep but it was that determination that got me up off the canvas twice to win.”

And with that fighting spirit, along with their strong faith, the Cunningham family continue as a family fighting for the life of their daughter and sister. The Cunningham’s live four and a half hours from Pittsburg, but yet they travel to and from the hospital a couple times a month for appointments etc. And as a fighter has to do at times at a moment’s notice, when they get the call, they have four hours to get Kennedy to the hospital for the transplant.

Kennedy Cunningham
Kennedy has adopted her Dad’s saying, "When the clock says it's about to be fight time, you need to pack up and go. It's about to be fight time right now." Kennedy’s story is a heart wrenching one, nobody in their right mind would want to see an innocent child suffer for any reason. But, the deal about a story, there always has to be an ending. And as Steve said, “We will never give up on Kennedy.” So to use a boxing reference, “the fight ain’t over until the final bell.” And the Cunningham’s haven’t heard any bell. As a fighter, you may get knocked down, but, it is not the number of how many times you have fallen, it is the times you have gotten back up to fight on. So this is not the end. And Princess Kennedy fights on!

Writers Note: For the Cunningham family I give you one of my favorite scriptures,

Psalm 73:26 - “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

To Princess Kennedy, I and the entire gang here at Doghouse Boxing are in your corner, fight on young warrior, fight on!

- Web Editor - Chee's Note: The old world (this system of things we live in now), with all its troubles and tumults, will soon come to an end, and a new day will come in which we live in peace, and in health forever here on Earth as promised by God - We will live in a world where sickness and unhealth are things of the past. My favorite passage comes from the book of Revelation 21: 3,4 - "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, (4) and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." - My prayers and best wishes go out to little Kennedy, her Dad and Mom - you have Doghouse in your corner, and certainly God watching out for you. God Bless.

The Cunningham's have set up a fund where donations will help this family cover the out of pocket expenses that come along with this amazing opportunity. Traveling to and from Pittsburgh as well as securing and maintaining a "home away from home" while Kennedy awaits her new heart and recovers from surgery.


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