My name is Kortne Ford. I'm 22 years old and I play center back for the Colorado Rapids.
I want to tell you a story about my mom...
For the first 12 years of my life, I lived as an only child to a young mother in Kansas City, Kansas. My parents never married, so most of my time, at an early age, was spent with my mom, Laurie. For a while, I saw my dad every other weekend, but at some point - around 10, I believe - it became clear that the situation I was experiencing with him was abnormal. To free us from his abuse, my mom managed to gain sole custody of me, and in 2008, out of desperation, we dropped everything and fled to Colorado.
For most of her professional career, my mom's been a teacher. A good one too. And after applying for numerous jobs around Denver, it was a school in Greeley, Colorado - just south of the city - that showed interest in hiring her. Greeley became our new home, and for a short time things improved; but unfortunately, seasons change, even the good ones, and it wasn't long until we received news that my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
It's likely that many of you reading this letter today, in your own unique ways, already know firsthand the perils of cancer. It is a debilitating, indiscriminate disease. And the costs are dire -physically, mentally and financially.
After her diagnosis, most of our money went towards paying for her treatments. Yet my mom - in ways I'm still not sure - somehow managed to save just enough so that I could continue to do what I loved most: play soccer. With the cost of enrollment on the best club teams in town far too steep, I caught on with a local squad instead. We had some success. And not long after came calls from the Olympic Development Academy, and the Colorado Rapids.
Throughout this time, my mom was enduring harsh treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. Yet, somehow, she never ceased supporting me in my pursuit of becoming a professional athlete. She supported me unwaveringly. She wanted me to achieve my dreams. And she was committed to seeing them come to fruition.
On an average day, after finishing up at school around 4:15pm, my mom would drive myself and two other kids to Dove Valley, where we trained five days a week. Gas prices were at an all-time high - around four dollars per gallon - which only left us with enough for bills and gas. All the while, her medical debt compounded.
But my mom and I are a team. We were then, and we are now.
She explained to me at a very young age that the money being spent on gas was my college tuition. She told me that if she was going to give up everything she had to make my dream attainable, I, in turn, had to work hard enough to earn a full ride to college. That was the deal. We were going to do it together.
And we did. For five years my mom sold snacks and water for 50 cents apiece in her classroom. Just enough money for me to eat. Most nights, I was allowed to spend $3 on dinner. It usually went towards two sandwiches and a drink on the dollar menu at McDonalds.
Times were tough, but fortunately our work began to pay off. In 2011, my mom entered remission and soon after I held up my end of the bargain, earning a full ride to play soccer at the University of Denver. I went on to play three seasons there, signed a professional contract with the Rapids in January of 2017, and took enough classes to complete a business marketing degree during my rookie season.
It felt like we were there. Like we had reached the top of the mountain.
Yet in February of 2017, while in Arizona experiencing my first preseason as a professional athlete, I received a phone call. My mom's cancer was back. This time in the form of metastasized Bone Cancer. Her doctors explained that it was treatable, but not curable.
Her diagnosis was deemed terminal.
Thankfully, out of the dark our community rallied and provided us with light. My team, the Colorado Rapids, hosted several fundraisers to help raise money so that my mom could continue to receive the treatments not covered by her medical insurance. And the truth is, without that support, she would not be alive today. The contributions we received helped to directly offset some of the costs associated with those treatments.
A year after my mother's second diagnosis with cancer, not only is she still alive, but she refuses to play victim. She continues fighting, every day, to stay here on this earth so that she can positively impact others. She refuses to ask for help. But I, in turn, refuse to allow her pursuit of life to be obstructed by a lack of financial resources.
We've set up a GoFundMe page in her name, but I think it's important to at least mention that any contributions to that page are not going towards paying off her medical debt. Her debt is and will remain outstanding, because it is too significant to even attempt to rectify. Rather, the donations we receive are used directly to cover the costs of her day-to-day treatments. These donations are, in many ways, her lifeline.
As a child, I watched my mom Laurie selflessly empty her entire savings account to free us from my father's influence. Between cancer treatments, she spent the only extra time she had driving me to soccer training. She told me to chase my dreams. And throughout it all, she's somehow managed to stay strong.
Recently, after a routine test, doctors noticed elevated cancer levels, and have given my mom three-to-six months to live. But they don't know how tough she is. They don't know that when she's says she wants to "be the miracle"… she means it.
My mom is often called a fighter. And it's true - she is. But much more than that, she's a loving and kind person. She raised me. She's been a positive influence on countless lives. She deserves to live. And as her son, I will dedicate my life to helping her. Just as she dedicated hers to helping me.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
Your thoughts, prayers, and contributions - no matter the size - mean the world.