The Yankees began HOPE (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) Week 2018 on Monday afternoon with Manager Aaron Boone, Brett Gardner, Sonny Gray, Didi Gregorius, bench coach Josh Bard, NYCFC Goalkeeper Brad Stuver and the founders of the Muddy Puddles Project, Cindy and Louis Campbell, surprising families that have been affected by pediatric cancer at Mohawk Day Camp.
The group participated in a “Mess Fest” that included playing in mud and foam pits, “pie-face” and water fights.
The Muddy Puddles Project, founded by Cindy and Louis Campbell in memory of their son, Ty Louis, is a celebration of children and childhood.
Cindy Campbell was living every parent’s worst nightmare as her 5-year-old son Ty was fighting for his life. Ty, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 2, underwent round after round of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery throughout his young life.
Despite his prognosis, Cindy and her husband Louis tried to remain positive. One morning, Cindy asked her son what he wanted to do when he began to feel better. Ty, who spent the majority of his time weak and confined to a bed, was wide-eyed and excited by the question. He wanted to do something that his cartoon hero Peppa Pig did.
“I’m gonna jump in a muddy puddle.”
Sadly, Ty never got the chance to emulate his favorite character. On October 17, 2012, Ty passed away after an almost three-year battle with brain cancer.
In lieu of flowers and in honor of Ty, the Campbells asked their peers to celebrate the joy of childhood by allowing their kids to jump in muddy puddles. The response was overwhelming. The Campbells received hundreds of photos of children playing in the mud and jumping in puddles. At that point, they realized they had started something special.
To honor children like Ty — who spend their childhood unable to embrace the simple joys of being a kid — the goal of the Muddy Puddles Project is “to inspire parents to let their children have more fun, while also raising much needed attention and funding for pediatric cancer research.”
Each year the organization hosts the Muddy Puddles “Mess Fest” in Mahopac, N.Y. The event acts as a “day of yes” for kids, giving them an opportunity to participate in messy activities, including splatter paint, pie throwing and, of course, playing in a giant mud pit.
“When our daughter was in treatment and we lived in isolation, Mess Fest was an opportunity for our children to get outside together in a safe environment and do the messy things they couldn’t do at home or anywhere else,” said Mess Fest attendee Matthew Kabel. “For us, as cancer parents, it was a chance to let our guards down for just a few hours and let our kids just be kids and enjoy a sense of normalcy that childhood cancer robbed from them.”
The Annual “Mess Fest” has hosted over 10,000 people in its five years of existence, raising over $800,000 for pediatric cancer research. The Muddy Puddles Project also provides families everywhere the resources to host their own mini “Mess Fest” fundraisers.