Cancer survivor inspires change in community


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – The pain of having a child diagnosed with cancer is something many of us can’t imagine. So the Wabash Valley has an event that helps families dealing with this reality. It’s the annual Swing for a Cure.

Aly Bennett may look like your typical 22-year-old, but her childhood was far from normal. She is the reason this benefit started here in Terre Haute.

“When you’re that young at 15 being diagnosed with cancer, you need the communities support,” said Bennett.

In and out of hospitals, all Aly wanted was her typical teenage lifestyle.

“Sports was my life. I played softball, basketball and soccer,” said Bennett. That’s why she continued to play softball while going through chemotherapy.

“Even my coach would yell at me if I missed a ball just like he would the other girls, so it was kind of nice to get that normalcy from my teammates,” said Bennett.

“I personally didn’t know I could make this kind of impact or how much the community was willing to help,” said Aly’s teammate and best friend Marissa Stout.

Marissa knew she had to do something when she saw her friend in pain. She did that by starting Swing for a Cure.

“I was just a freshman when I got this started and from there we started to branch out and get more people involved. It’s been amazing,” said Stout.

“You hear about all the time about how giving the Wabash Valley is but when you come out here and watch this, it really shows up,” said Marissa’s dad, Dwayne Stout. He coached Aly since she was eight.

Swing for a Cure has raised $80,000 for local kids battling cancer since its start in 2010. This year they are honoring Savannah Boone. She’s a sophomore at Linton High School battling brain cancer.

Savannah has endured two brain surgeries and is currently going through radiation.

Although she wasn’t feeling up to attending the tournament Saturday, she was planning to hand out the trophy to the winning team Sunday evening.

Savannah received a trophy of her own Friday. She was crowned Linton’s Homecoming Princess!

Organizers told News 10 they are hoping to raise $20,000 this year. The majority of the proceeds will go directly to Savannah’s family to help with medical bills. A small portion is also given to other kids battling cancer along with an ISU nursing scholarship.

Aly has been in remission for five years but she remembers what it’s like feeling at her worst. Now she has some advice for Savannah.

“Part of the healing process is to not only beat cancer but to stay positive, so I would say always keep a smile on your face and just know everything is going to be okay,” said Bennett.

Aly and the community will continue to fight cancer for Savannah.

“To know they’re coming to this tournament and I can help them just like they helped me, it’s a really good feeling,” said Bennett.