CU Rallies Around Beloved Student-Athlete
EDITOR'S NOTE: CU sprinter Kyle MacIntosh has been in the fight of his life since being diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in December of 2013. He recently suffered another setback when he suffered a serious brain aneurysm. Kathleen Majewski was a teammate of Kyle's and wrote the following story for CUBuffs.com.
AURORA - It's no surprise that in the fight for his life, Kyle MacIntosh is donning a weathered University of Colorado Track and Field t-shirt. "Kyle doesn't go anywhere without wearing his CU gear," Kyle's friend and former teammate Matthew McCathran said. "CU shorts, CU shirt."
McCathran is one of several former teammates who have traveled from around the nation to support the University of Colorado sprinter and hurdler as he battles cancer.
"We've had so many people fly in from out of state," Kyle's sister Kendra Daniel said. "Arizona, Oregon, New Jersey, Texas, California. It's unbelievable. When Kyle wakes up, it's going to erupt in here!"
In December 2013, Kyle was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. It was because of the thoroughness of CU's athletic training staff that Kyle's cancer was caught in a timely manner. "At the time, we wouldn't have found this if Kyle hadn't been at CU," Kyle's mother Nancy MacIntosh said. "Kyle told Tara, his trainer, he had a backache. She had him get an MRI and that's when they discovered the tumor."
Since the diagnosis, Kyle and his family have endured countless treatments, doctor's appointments, and hospital visits. "Tara set up all the appointments," Nancy remembers. "We didn't have to make any calls, they just told us, GÇÿGo here, do this.' CU helped out so much."
Kyle has received 12 rounds of chemotherapy and 43 radiation treatments throughout his battle. He has attacked each treatment with the same ferocity and strength that he has consistently shown on the track.
"He's mentally tough," said Kyle's father, Bill MacIntosh. "With track, you run until you throw up. Then you go out and run and throw up again. This is the same thing. It's tough. But Kyle kind of treated it as a race. Each chemo round was a hurdle. And every time, he was ready for the next chemo, because that's one closer hurdle to the finish line.
For Kyle, the "finish line" led directly to a starting line. Kyle was determined to run for the Buffs again, and after appealing the NCAA, he was granted a sixth year of eligibility.
"He called me right after he found out and was ecstatic," McCathran said. "It was a huge push for him to keep going and keep training and keep fighting through."
But Kyle didn't just want to run again, he wanted to compete again. To ensure that he wasn't losing ground on his opponents, the 2012 Pac-12 400-meter hurdle finalist would head straight to a workout after each round of chemo. "The first time we went to work out, I thought we better put the brakes on him a little bit," Bill said. "But Kyle said to me, GÇÿI've got to work harder to keep up.'" After receiving the good news from the NCAA, Kyle's workouts intensified and his motivation skyrocketed.
He was feeling good and was determined to compete for CU during the 2015 spring outdoor track season. However, the morning after Christmas, Kyle faced another hurdle in his already grueling race. He woke up with a severe headache. His parents rushed him to Children's Hospital in Aurora where he underwent emergency surgery. The doctors found two brain tumors, one of which had caused a brain hemorrhage. Kyle has not woken up since the surgery on December 26.
His parents and sister have not left the hospital since his surgery. Added to the mix of unfailing support for Kyle are several members of his Buff family.
"I'm in awe by it," Daniel said. "It's helped our family so much. The doctors come in and ask Kyle to do things and he's not really responding. But then his friends come in and ask him, and he'll open his eyes or he'll do different commands. This is what's going to help him get through it. We wouldn't be able to do it without all of this support and help. It's just truly the biggest blessing. What CU is doing for him is just amazing. I'm just in awe by it all."
In addition to their unwavering vigilance, Kyle's friends started a GoFundMe.com page for Kyle that has raised close to $45,000 in eight days.
"Of course they didn't tell Nancy or me. They knew we wouldn't ask for money and we're not very good on the computer," said Bill. "I thumbed through the names [of donors] and 90% I don't know. They're fellow Buffs; so many CU alumni who are contributing to Kyle. And we don't know them and they don't know Kyle. But it's a Buff in need and they're just throwing their support. The Buff community and the kids are just unbelievable. We just can't believe all this has been done. It's a tribute to Kyle."
The CU athletic department has also set up a donation site at Buffs4Life.org, where 100% of the donation will go to the MacIntosh family to help with their staggering medical expense. T-shirts have also been designed and will be available for purchase at several CU home athletic events, including the Potts Invitational (Jan. 16-17) in Balch Fieldhouse and the men's basketball games on Jan. 22 and 24 at Coors Events Center. The shirts will also be available for purchase online at CUBuffs.com next week. The t-shirts have been donated and again 100% of the proceeds will go to the MacIntosh family.
As a senior at Littleton High School, Kyle was heavily recruited to run NCAA Division I track. Several schools made him attractive scholarship offers, including his dad's alma mater, Colorado State. "I went to CSU so I was kind of pushing that," Bill admitted. But Kyle had other plans. He told his dad that he wanted to run for the University of Colorado.
"I'm a Buff for life," said Bill. "That's how well they've treated Kyle. I used to hate CU. CSU people do. But they've treated him so well from day one and Kyle just seemed like a great fit up there and he loved it. He was so happy with school and track. He enjoyed it so much. So I converted."
In Kyle's waiting room at Children's Hospital, his immediate family blends with his CU family. They fill the MacIntosh's in on funny stories from Kyle's days in Boulder and reminisce on his unfailing ability to brighten anyone's day with his goofy charm and steadfast positivity.
In the hospital, on the internet, at CU, and across the country, Kyle and the rest of his family continue to fight, proudly wearing their black and gold.
Kyle's t-shirts will be sold at: Potts Invitational, Jan. 16-17, Balch Fieldhouse; CU Men's Basketball vs. Washington, Jan. 22, Coors Events Center; CU Men's Basketball vs. Washington State, Jan. 24, Coors Events Center.