As September comes to an end, so also ends MLS’ annual Kick Childhood Cancer month. However, for those dealing with pediatric cancer, the fight will continue to be waged well past the end of the month.
One member of the Houston Dynamo that has recently gained some firsthand knowledge of this fact is forward Fafà Picault. Picault, who is in his first season with the team, is close family friends back home in Miami with a child who was recently diagnosed with pediatric cancer. For Picault, the experience has been deeply impactful both because of his closeness to the impacted family and also because of how the 8-year-old Malachi has responded.
"It's almost like a second family and to see this kid that's going through something like that, it kind of hit me. And seeing his spirits hit me even more because he's such a positive kid. He's like a soldier but at the same time he's smiling. He's so thankful for each day."
Picault, who has been a fixture in the MLS since 2017, has seen multiple Kick Childhood Cancer months, and has always felt that they were one of the league’s most important initiatives. However, this personal experience with pediatric cancer has given this year’s campaign a new meaning.
"We've done it before obviously. The league recognizes it yearly, which is great,” Picault said. “But it's not until now, seeing somebody that I know go through it, it catches my eye even more and it kind of took my heart even more. Probably every day or every other day I think of him."
Malachi has had to endure numerous taxing medical procedures since being diagnosed with choroid plexus carcinoma. For Picault, who describes Malachi as someone he sees as a little brother, watching Malachi go through such hardship and remain so positive has helped keep things in perspective during a long soccer season.
"Watching an 8-year-old go through that, meanwhile I get to go play soccer, was kind of a reality check,” Picault said. “He's been a hero to me this year in watching how he's dealt with certain adversity at such a young age."
And Picault is using Kick Childhood Cancer month to raise awareness for Malachi and all the children going through similar circumstances. For the 31-year-old forward, it is the least he can do with the platform that he has been given as a professional athlete.
“I've always believed what my mom and dad always told me. 'If God puts you on a platform, it's to do good and to use it for his glory and to help others,’ Picault said. "If I can show love in supporting people with a platform that I've been given because of a gift and hard work, then that's what I need to be doing."
For those who can, contributions to Malachi’s treatment fund can be donated here.