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NH College Notebook: UNH swim team raises funds to help boy battle cancer

September 14. 2013 12:45AM

The University of New Hampshire swimming and diving team joined others in the Seacoast community, raising money for six-year old Soren in his battle with cancer at the Jenny Thompson Pool on Sunday, Sept. 8.

A member of the Seacoast Swimming Association, Soren was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma, a form of blood cancer in July. HIs mother, Erika Cooper, is the aquatics director at UNH, while her husband, Vaughn, works as a professor in the department of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences at UNH as well. Soren will under go treatment at Boston Children's Hospital.

To help deflate the costs of treatment, transportation, food and lodging, members of the Seacoast Swimming Community organized the event. Nicole Benson, a former assistant to UNH head coach Josh Willman, is one of the chief organizers of the event.

After hearing about Soren's cancer diagnosis, "I had a pit in my stomach because I have children, too," said Benson, who has four children of her own.

The UNH women's swimming and diving team collectively swam for 1,019,975 meters - translating to approximately 634 miles - and fundraised $18,157 for Soren and the Cooper family.

"One Million Meters For Soren" is also offering a virtual component to the fundraiser. Participants can go to a local swimming pool, swim as long as they want, and then take a picture of themselves with a piece of paper or whiteboard, with their names, how far they swam and an inspirational message for Soren. Pictures can be e-mailed to

In addition to the UNH swimmers, there were more than 200 participants during Sunday's event. Those teams, which reached out as far as Florida, swam approximately 20,000 meters for the cause.

For more information, or to learn how to make a donation for Soren using PayPal, visit

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Cameron Lyle of Plaistow and the University of New Hampshire and Plymouth State University's Ali Keith of Northfield, are two of five recipients of the 2013 ECAC Award of Valor.

The ECAC Award of Valor is awarded annually and was established in 1985 to honor Eastern College Athletic Conference student-athletes whose courage, motivation and relentless determination serves as an inspiration to all. The recipients of the Award of Valor exemplify strength of character and perseverance deserving recognition as being truly triumphant.

After competing in the first three meets of the 2012-2013 outdoor track and field season, taking second place in the shot put during two of those events, Lyle was notified by the Be The Match registry that he was indeed a bone marrow match. Lyle decided to forgo the remainder of his senior season and collegiate career to donate his bone marrow and save the life of an anonymous recipient who was battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

In recognition of his selfless act, Lyle was named the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Athlete of the Week. Lyle rejoined his Wildcat teammates in spirit for the America East Championships and the IC4A meets after his procedure was completed. He was named the first America East Award of Valor award winner in June 2013.

"As a member of the men's track and field program, Cam put in countless hours in the weight room and in the track working on his events, but he did not hesitate to be the donor," said Jim Boulanger, head coach of the University of New Hampshire men's cross country and track & field programs.

"He is a sensitive, thoughtful and caring individual. He chose the only thing one could do and that is to help prolong a life. Someone you do not know and have never met would benefit from your youth, vigor and marrow. I have coached for 40 years and Cam will always be a champion to those who know that life is more important than sport."

Keith entered her junior year at Plymouth State University in the fall of 2010 as the top returning pitcher on the softball team. On the second day of classes, Keith was informed what she thought was just a nagging cough, was in fact Hodgkin's lymphoma. She began rigorous treatment that included chemotherapy every other week for six months. After six months of treatment, Keith was declared cancer-free in March 2011.


By May 2011, the cancer had returned and forced her into another round of chemo, followed by a stem cell transplant in the fall. She spent a month in the hospital, followed by two months in a bubble. Once again deemed cancer-free, she was able to enroll at Plymouth State for the 2012 spring semester and was able to participate on the first day of practice. Keith has now been in remission for two years and served as the Panthers' captain during both her junior and senior seasons.

"Watching a 20-year-old handle this with class and dignity, and with the determination to conquer, it had a huge impact on me and her teammates," said Plymouth State University softball head coach Bruce Addison. "I don't think I have met someone who has inspired so many. We all can learn to face adversity from Ali for sure."

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Head coach Bill Herrion of the University of New Hampshire men's basketball program has hired his son, Ryan, a 2012 UNH graduate, as video coordinator and is in charge of player development.

Ryan Herrion played four years at the University of New Hampshire and was captain of the squad his senior season. He was part of the winningest four-year class in school history. Prior to returning to his alma mater, Herrion worked on the men's basketball staff at Marshall as a graduate assistant.

His primary responsibilities will include producing game film for the program as well as cutting and editing of video. He will also have a big hand in handling the social media outlets used by the team.

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The St. Anselm College men's lacrosse team has announced their support of the Purple Ribbon Cause through their Second annual St. Anselm College Purple Ribbon Lacrosse Challenge held at Grappone Stadium on school's campus.

The men's lacrosse team is set to host a lacrosse tournament featuring teams from Division's I, II and III in order to raise money for cancer research and The Michelle Cadorette Fund for Malignant Thymoma Research on Sunday, Oct. 6, starting at 8 a.m. Cadorette was a 1991 graduate of Saint Anselm, who was diagnosed with Malignant Thymoma almost 14 years ago. On Aug. 28, 2013, Cadorette lost her battle with Malignant Thymoma, therefore this year's challenge will be a celebration of Michelle's life and extra special to the St. Anselm lacrosse community.

The field has expanded to six teams, from last year's field of four, which included, Franklin Pierce University, Mount Ida College, and Clark University. The inaugural Purple Ribbon Lacrosse Challenge raised over $2,000 for Thymoma cancer research on behalf of the Purple Ribbon Foundation.

Each team will play two 50-minute, running-clock games apiece (two 25-minute halves), with the schedule being as follows: 8 a.m., St. Anselm vs. Curry; 9 a.m., American International vs. Clark; 10 a.m., St. Anselm vs. UConn; 11 a.m., Franklin Pierce vs. Clark; noon, American International vs. Curry; 1 p.m., Franklin Pierce vs. UConn.

To learn more about and The Michelle Cadorette Fund for Malignant Thymoma Research please visit their website at

"College Notebook" is compiled by the Sports staff of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News, and appears weekly during the college season in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email submissions to

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