VANCOUVER, BC – Pa-Modou Kah is usually the life of the party.
You won’t often find him in the background, letting the others do the talking. But that was the case on Tuesday, when Vancouver Whitecaps FC made a special visit to the BC Children’s Hospital.
Some players, like Steven Beitashour and Jordan Harvey, lit up every room they visited.
They asked questions, they made fun of their teammates, they made fun of themselves – anything to put a smile on the children’s faces.
Others, including Kah, were a little more reserved.
That’s not to say he didn’t cherish the experience. In fact, it was quite the opposite. This was Kah’s first visit to the BCCHF – and it hit close to home.
Around this time last year, Kah met a little girl named Eva after a big win against Vancouver coincidentally – the defender was still a member of Portland Timbers. Following the match, he spontaneously brought Eva onto the pitch. Then he brought Eva, as well as her parents and brother, into the locker room to listen to the coach’s talk.
Then, he found out she had cancer.
“I had no idea,” Kah told whitecapsfc.com. “Knowing that my wife was pregnant at the time, I just picked [Eva] up and told her that she can join us for the celebration. After I spoke to her parents, they explained her situation.”
At the age of five, it was discovered that Eva had a large brain tumour. A few days later, she underwent brain surgery – and she has since gone through radiation and chemotherapy as well.
“She’s a fighter,” Kah said. “It’s so humbling to see a little girl like this keep fighting. It gives you hope but it breaks your heart as well. Now I have a daughter and she’s healthy and someone else’s daughter isn’t healthy. That puts life into perspective.”
To this day, Kah remains in touch with Eva and her family.
He even met up with them in Portland back in July, when the ‘Caps were in town. Kah gave them Whitecaps FC jerseys. They wore them proudly. Turns out Kah was injured for that game, so he got to spend a little more time with the family.
He also introduced them to his wife and infant daughter.
“It was a beautiful moment,” Kah said. “Getting to have a relationship like this is very special and something I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life. Hopefully we can keep in touch even when I’m done playing, because these kinds of things go beyond playing.”
Kah said that Eva is doing “very well” these days and that her family was happy with the treatment she recently received in San Francisco.
That’s music to Kah’s ears.
Eva is always in the back of his mind – and that was certainly the case on Tuesday when Kah and the ‘Caps roamed the halls of the BC Children’s Hospital. As a professional soccer player, Kah knows the impact he’s able to make on people’s lives. Just don’t call him a role model.
The way he sees it, these kids – and their parents – “are the real role models.”
“It’s amazing,” Kah said. “Day in day out, they’re fighting against something that is very disgusting, that’s cancer. So wherever we can help, I think we should.”
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Click here to learn more about Major League Soccer’s efforts to increase awareness and raise funds for research and treatment.