HUNTERSVILLE – The Lake Norman Giants can do more than play football.
The local Pop Warner youth sports team also spends time helping others in the community. No one knows that fact better than Bret and Kathy Bandi, the most recent beneficiaries of the Giants’ volunteer work.
Kathy was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, a rare form of breast cancer, in May. She’s undergoing treatment and remains optimistic about her chances of making a recovery.
She’s also gotten some help along the way.
Rob Bass and Rodney Rodman, two Giants coaches who are friends of the Bandis, approached the couple early in the football season wanting to help. Players on the team offered to do a cancer walk to raise money for the Bandis, but the couple wanted the proceeds to go to the Levine Breast Cancer Foundation.
“It was humbling, I’ll say that,” Kathy Bandi said. “I couldn’t believe a group of coaches and players would do it in my honor.”
Bass and Rodman helped coordinate the event, in which the Giants actively took part.
The Giants’ players, 31 in all, raised money for the cause by going door to door around Huntersville, soliciting donations. They held a cancer walk Oct. 20 at Bailey Middle School, raising $3,500 – much more than Bret or Kathy expected.
Kathy was scheduled to be out of town the day of the walk, but she arrived back in time to meet the team before the walk ended.
The couple’s son, Davis, played for the same Lake Norman Giants team as a kid, which she said made the event even more meaningful.
Bret Bandi said the team’s generosity went above and beyond what most would have requested.
“It’s more of a, ‘Why us?’ kind of thinking,” he said. “If you take it for what it’s really worth, it’s (a feeling of) amazement. Somebody cares that much about the cause.
“It motivated us to think, ‘What can we do to help others now?’ It left us with a feeling of pure joy that these boys learned a life lesson.”
The Bandis are also upbeat about more progress with Kathy’s condition.
Her radiation treatment ended Oct. 16, with reconstructive surgery scheduled for Nov. 26. Post-radiation treatment showed positive signs.
“It’s a long haul,” Bret Bandi said. “Right now, we’re hopeful. We keep a good spirit. The boys on that team are just awesome for what they did. When you get a lift like this, it means the world.”
His wife agreed.
“It’s been very positive,” she said. “We’re looking for more good news soon.”
The effort Bass and Rodman made to help organize the event spoke to how tightly knit the community is, Kathy Bandi added.
“What great role models,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe the coaches and the players would do that. It says a lot about the kids in our community, and the adults as well, that they’d do something like this. It’s just so humbling. I’m still shocked.”