By Lauren Shepard
The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) boasts a motto of ‘Changing Lives One Arrow at a Time’ and that is exactly what it has done for thousands of students all over the world.
Kennedy Sumpter, 13, is just one example of the way that this motto is lived out.
Born Nov. 12, 2002, Kennedy was a “happy, bright-eyed little girl with a great life ahead of her,” said Darren Collins, Kennedy’s father.
It was right after her second birthday, Nov. 24, 2004, that her life began to hang in the balance.
Kennedy was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Childhood ALL is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
According to The American Cancer Society, the average person’s lifetime risk of getting ALL is less than one in 750.
“Right after her second birthday, we spent Thanksgiving in there [the hospital] with her,” said Patricia Collins, Kennedy’s mother. “She had a port surgically put in her chest and into her artery so she could receive her chemo treatments. She also had spinals to administer chemo directly into her spine.”
It was a little over two years later, on Feb. 5, 2007, that Kennedy’s treatment was completed.
“But once a year, for the rest of her life, she goes for a check-up at the Children’s Hospital at UK,” said Patricia. “They check her blood work and her heart and she gets echo cardio grams done. All the medication they gave her to cure her can cause all kinds of things in the future.”
Kennedy hasn’t let any of this stop her.
For almost four years now, Kennedy has been a competitor in the NASP program and not only is she a competitor, but she is a winner as well.
From placing 36 out of 959 in her middle school girl division and 101 out of 2,238 overall girls with a score of 283 out of a possible 300 at the NASP World Tournament in Nashville, Tennessee on July 22, 2015 to, most recently, placing first in her division and first overall with a score of 294 at the Williamstown Invitational on Dec. 12.
Kennedy is well on her way to stardom in the world of archery.
According to Kennedy, “The thought of going to a good college, getting a full ride, excelling in school, getting a good job, and maybe becoming a professional archer” is what keeps her going.
As far as her cancer story goes, Patricia said, “Once when we took her for yearly check up, they asked if they could send sample of her blood to Saint Jude for part of their study. She is doing so well.”
For Kennedy, archery is a passion and something that she is extremely good at.
Kennedy said her favorite thing about archery is “that everyone can learn to shoot and nobody is left out or sits on the bench.”