BAY RIDGE — When the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation, a nonprofit organization that funds childhood cancer research, was looking for someone to dedicate its annual triathlon run to, it couldn’t have picked a better honoree than Bay Ridge’s own beloved Sweet Sally Sunshine.
This year’s triathlon and 5K run will be dedicated to the memory of Sally Kabel, affectionately known as Sweet Sally Sunshine. The beloved Bay Ridge native continues to inspire goodwill and compassion within the community and beyond, nearly a year after her death.
Sally died on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018 suddenly, following a nearly lifelong battle with leukemia and other complications. Her death not only devastated her heartbroken family but an entire community that had rallied behind her in her brave battle with cancer.
Sally’s mother and father, Nicole and Matt Kabel, have continued to keep their daughter’s memory alive by helping to raise awareness of pediatric cancer.
In a similar fashion, Louis and Cindy Campbell created the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation when their son was suffering from brain cancer. They nicknamed him Super Ty because he was such a fighter, calling him the “best good boy in the whole wide world.”
Ty was seven years old when he died on October 17, 2012, after valiantly fighting the disease for half his life. And like the Kabels, the Campbells made sure that their child’s life would continue to inspire and impact the lives of others by bringing awareness to pediatric cancer.
The TYathlon, named in his memory, and 5K Run will take place on Saturday, Sept. 14 in Mahopac, New York. The triathlon start time is 7 a.m. and the 5K Run is 9:30 a.m. It’s pre-registration only with limited day of race registrations available. Registration closes on Friday, Sept. 13 at 9 p.m. The triathlon race is limited to the first 200 people who sign up, age 14 and up. The 5K registration is unlimited and open to all ages.
“Each year, we dedicate this race to a child diagnosed with cancer,” Louis Campbell said in a statement. “It’s why we put this event together, why our volunteers are out there at the break of dawn, and why you train for months. This year, we will be honoring the life of Sweet Sally Sunshine by wearing her favorite color, blue.”
Campbell continued, “This beautiful, spunky, smiling little girl was diagnosed with leukemia at 10 months old and bravely battled until September 19, 2018. It’s not about the fastest time or first-place finishes…whether it takes you 30 minutes or 3 hours, your participation helps us fund crucial pediatric cancer research. We’re proud to have the Kabel family join us on Sept. 14 and we hope to see you out there, especially her beloved Brooklyn community!”
Community leader John Quaglione was pleased to learn about this year’s triathlon being dedicated to Sally. “Sally Kabel, better known as Sweet Sally Sunshine, galvanized our community and cultivated an army of people who supported her in her fight against, and to end, childhood cancer,” said Quaglione.
“Through this competition, named in her honor, more people will learn of Sally and be inspired by her courage, love, and determination,” he added.
Matt Kabel is preparing to run in this year’s event. “We were so moved to hear that the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation, an organization that is dedicated to funding local childhood cancer research, has chosen to honor our little girl at their annual TYathlon and 5K races,” Kabel told this paper.
“The foundation’s co-founders are wonderful people who have turned the hardship of losing their son Ty to cancer into a mission to help all the other kids fighting this horrible disease,” he added. “Cindy and Lou have also been beacons of support for our family over the years, especially when Sally passed away almost a year ago. It means the world to us to have our Sweet Sally Sunshine’s memory live on in the hearts and minds of those that cared for her.”