Four years have passed since Lindsey McKone experienced the heartbreaking loss of her younger brother, Will, to DIPG. Despite the pain, Lindsey’s determination to support families battling brain cancer remains steadfast. As a professional lacrosse player competing for Athletes Unlimited, she will play this season to benefit ChadTough Defeat DIPG! This means the foundation will receive a grant equal to 100% of Lindsey’s win bonus. Join us in celebrating Lindsey’s commitment to making a difference in the lives of those affected by childhood brain cancer.
A Brother’s Legacy
Some of Lindsey McKone’s favorite memories are playing sports in the yard with her younger brother, Will. Fiercely competitive, the two honed their athletic skills by playing one-on-one basketball in the driveway, debating who fouled whom, then finishing with one of them making the final shot in overtime.
“I can still hear his laugh as he dribbled right by me and laid it up knowing that I was getting more and more frustrated at losing to him,” remembers Lindsey. “We always would sprint back into the house, sweaty, laughing, and telling our parents about the best play of the game.”
What Would Willie Do
Throughout his life, Will was always full of positive light and energy, unconditional love and empathy. He had a great sense of humor and a brilliant and infectious smile; he loved everything about his life and made a lasting, positive impact on every person he met.
Will was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 13. Over the next 3 years, he had an MRI every 6 months, and his family helplessly watched as the tumor grew, ever so slightly, year after year. In 2017, the oncologist discovered that Will’s tumor contained the H3K27M mutation, and he would likely have just one year left to live.
On November 24, 2017, Will lost his life at the age of 17 after a heroic, yet unfair, battle.
Lindsey, who was just 20 at the time, recalls the profound role her brother played in shaping who she is today.
“As Will got sicker, he would sign all of his emails, texts, and messages with ‘Staying Positive,’” said Lindsey. “Those two words have stayed with me 100% since he passed. Even through the most difficult days, he stayed positive, and that is something that I have taken with me through the good and bad times since.”
Now, before every lacrosse game, Lindsey writes WWWD on her wrist. What Would Willie Do? It’s her reminder to be kind, loving, and inclusive to all, just like Will did as he went out of his way to make other people’s lives a little brighter.
Fighting for Future Families
Determined to continue Will’s fight for a cure, the McKone family became a ChadTough Defeat DIPG Family Partner in 2023.
“Through our partnership with ChadTough, we have gained profound insights into the foundation’s tireless efforts to fund research,” Lindsey shares.
Now, Lindsey has an opportunity to pursue her passion for sports while simultaneously raising funds for ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation. Aiming to develop athletes as civic leaders, Lindsey’s sports league, Athletes Unlimited, has developed a program that enables its professional athletes to effortlessly partner with nonprofit organizations and dedicate a portion of their season for their chosen nonprofit’s benefit. This season, Lindsey will play from July 20 to August 13 at the USA Lacrosse Headquarters in Sparks, Maryland, in support of ChadTough Defeat DIPG. A grant matching 100% of her win bonus (averaging approximately $3,000) will be donated to the foundation. Through this commitment, Lindsey brings hope and support to others, leaving a mark on the lives of families facing the challenges of childhood brain cancer.
You can also make a direct donation to Team WillieSmac here.