Alumni: Kevin Kline

Houston DJ honored by Ripken,
Energizer for cancer foundation work

Cal Ripken Jr. (left) and Energizer CEO, Ward Klein (right) induct Kevin Kline into the Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame. Credit: Doug Miner

By Billi London-Gray

Kevin Kline has always had the drive to take things to the next level.

As a college student, the Missouri native — not to be confused with his namesake Oscar-winning uncle — transferred to Texas State in 1991 and became the starting catcher for the Bobcats while he worked on his bachelor’s degree in communication. Now a successful Houston DJ as the co-host of the weekday morning show “Q Morning Zoo” at The New 93Q radio station, he has worked tirelessly as an advocate for children with cancer.

Last Tuesday, June 21, with previous honoree and fellow cancer activist Cal Ripken, Jr. shaking his hand, Kline was inducted into the Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Energizer’s headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.

The Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame honors “everyday people” who “showcase unstoppable energy and never-quit spirit,” according to an Energizer spokesperson at Kline’s induction ceremony. Kline was nominated for the honor because of his work as the founder and driving force behind the Snowdrop Foundation, a nonprofit organization that benefits kids fighting cancer. Online voters selected Kline from among 10 nominees to receive this year’s award.

Kline was drawn into the fight against childhood cancer through his work at the radio station. While hosting a benefit radiothon at Texas Children’s Hospital in 2005, he and his wife, Trish, were inspired by a 15-year-old patient named Chelsey Campbell. Energetic and continually positive, the teen had been diagnosed with rare stage-four undifferentiated sarcoma, and doctors gave her slim chances of living to see her 16th birthday.

“My wife and I started Snowdrop Foundation as a 16th birthday present to [her],” Kline says. “She did live to turn 16 on June 11, 2006, and three days later … Snowdrop Foundation was officially recognized by the IRS as a 501c3 nonprofit organization.”

Campbell passed away in December 2006, just months into the Klines’ work with the Snowdrop Foundation. But in the short years since, the foundation has established three channels of funding to benefit children with cancer: research at Texas Children’s Hospital, programs to support young patients and their families, and college scholarships for survivors.

Kline’s journey in support of the Snowdrop Foundation shows even more clearly his dedication to kids like Campbell.

Starting in 2007, Kline started running marathons as a way to raise funds and gain publicity for his nonprofit. As he ran, he envisioned a more challenging display of support, and soon started training to run longer distances. Such feats of endurance, he reasoned, were a more fitting metaphor for the fight pediatric cancer patients face every day.

“First, battling cancer is a slow process. Long distance running is not a sprint, but a slow, steady pace,” he explains. “A child with cancer goes through bouts of isolation, boredom, monotony and pain. When I run long distances, I deal with isolation as I run by myself; boredom because there are many more things that are much more fun to do than run; monotony because it’s the same thing over and over and over when you’re running every day for 10-12 hours.”

Kline’s perspective on pain underscores his admiration for the kids he helps.

“Cancer treatment is very painful for a child. From the needles to the chemo to the surgery and rehab, pain is a constant,” he says. “I never use the word pain to describe what I go through in a run. I’ve seen true pain, and what I feel is discomfort in comparison. I like to see how much discomfort I can put my body through so that I can somewhat illustrate what these kids go through while they fight for their lives.”

Kline’s illustration of the fight against pediatric cancer will hit the big screen in September as a documentary, Strides Across Texas. Then, in December, he will start his most ambitious run to date: 62 miles a day for seven consecutive days to honor each of the 62 pediatric cancer patients being treated at any given time at Texas Children’s Hospital.

As for the accolades and induction into the Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame, Kline says he was thrilled to be selected, but keeps his focus on the bigger story.

“[It] obviously makes me feel good, but more than that, it lets our supporters, from our board members to our volunteers to our donors, know that what we are doing is having an impact, and their hard work is being recognized,” he says. “Most importantly, for me, it means that the life of Chelsey Campbell, which physically ended on December 9, 2006, is still very much alive and making a difference in our world.”

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