Welcome to the 8th annual Alexis Briski Memorial Tournament.
Although many people refer to this tournament as the “Briski” Tournament, this event is a memorial for one young girl — my daughter, Alexis Joy Briski, who as a 10-year-old was told the words “I’m sorry, but you have cancer…” Nobody ever wants to hear that. Alexis had a passion for the game of softball, and this tournament is a great way to remember her, to honor the game that she loved and played, and to bring awareness to childhood cancer.
Alexis was diagnosed in May of 2008 and passed away on May 23, 2009. She had a one-year battle with a childhood cancer called osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that approximately 500 children are diagnosed with every year in the U.S. Alexis had more than 10 surgeries, lots of chemotherapy and plenty of time spent in the hospital, but she never lost her sense of humor and never stopped dreaming and believing.
When she was in the hospital, Alexis always dreamed about playing softball again, even after her left arm had to be amputated because the cancer had recurred there. We also talked about baseball while she was in the hospital. I never reached out, but at the time I thought how cool it would be to have, say, Barry Bonds stop in and say hello. Years later we have an athlete who is doing it on his own.
I was touched recently when I saw a news conference held by Buster Posey and his wife Kristen along with the San Francisco Giants that introduced a charity that they founded that supports childhood cancer. I include a link here because it is worth watching. It certainly made me cry and made me happy to know that someone that people can identify with and look up to has taken up the cause and provided some visibility. Here is a link to the news conference.
For a shorter clip with Buster visiting some pediatric cancer patients, you can hit this link to a Mercury news article. You can see the hospital room that these children spend an awful lot of time in.
I still think about Alexis every day. Not a day has gone by when she hasn’t been on my heart and mind. Yes, it gets easier with time and we are thankful that we have three other happy and healthy children — Annika (16), Matthew, (14) and Emily (9). My wife, Kay, and I are grateful for the support of this community.
I still coach softball and I just finished my daughter, Emily’s, first year of 8U Magic. On our last tournament as I talked to the girls and parents after our last game, I realized that the last time I coached an 8U team was with Alexis in 2006. 10 years later I still get “Joy” from watching the game and teaching these young people the game of softball.
We are grateful to this fantastic softball league for hosting this tournament. Although we are all competitors out there, it is important to remember and appreciate the gift of our daughters, and the privilege we have of watching them play this game. My entire family will be out at various games over the weekend. I will be wearing a well-worn “Magic” hat that has a yellow ribbon on one side and a purple “J” on the other. The ribbon is for Alexis. The J is for a friend of hers, Jensen Barrett, that suffered from a similar cancer and passed away a year after Alexis. Please also remember Chelsea Chiala, a young infant who passed away from SIDS several years ago. Her family, the Chialas, will also be out at the tournament.
In closing, I wish you the best, and I trust that this tournament — the Alexis Briski Memorial — will bring you and yours a joyous weekend of softball.
Kael Briski (Alexis’ Father)