Nichols Students Raise Awareness For Childhood Cancer Research

December 20, 2019
Nichols students sitting on a couch with Quinn Waters and Nichols College's bison mascot, Thunder.

DUDLEY, Mass. – For many, burpees are just a workout. But for Nichols College, they’re a way to raise awareness and money for childhood cancer research.

Students from Nichols College helped raise $1,000 to donate to childhood cancer research on behalf of Quinn Waters, a 3-year-old Weymouth boy battling a cancerous brain tumor. The students raised the money by challenging sports teams across the campus to a “1,000 Burpees for $1,000 Challenge.”

Melody Millett ’21 from Naples, Maine, Thomas Budzinski ’21 from Gardner, Mass., and Ethan Cayer ’21 from Waterville, Maine, ran the challenge as part of the Sport Management and Fan Engagement course taught by Assistant Professor Priscila Alfaro-Barrantes.

Quinn, who has become known as “The Mighty Quinn,” was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain stem tumor, in February 2019. According to Quinn’s mother, Tara Waters, he has since undergone several forms of treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant in June.

Over the summer, Quinn was mostly home-bound due to treatment compromising his immune system, Tara Waters said. But Quinn’s story spread through The Mighty Quinn Facebook page and local media, which caught the attention of many. Quinn started receiving visitors at his family’s home, including the Dropkick Murphys, the New England Patriots cheerleaders, Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle, and several fire and police departments.

But Alfaro-Barrantes said no college had visited Quinn. She wanted to change that.

“I heard it on the news and thought, ‘Someone has to go, a college has to go,’” she said.

So, Alfaro-Barrantes worked with her students to come up with an idea to raise money and help Quinn Waters. Together, they created the “1,000 Burpees for $1,000 Challenge,” and the students organized the efforts on campus and with the Waters family.

Student-athletes completed 2,192 total burpees in 5 minutes, more than doubling the original goal. Softball player Colleen Callahan ’21 of Billerica, Mass., completed the most burpees with 119. Men’s Ice Hockey Captain Hogan Davidson ’20 of Diluth, Minn., was the male athlete who completed the most burpees with 77.

The three who put on the challenge visited Quinn after the burpee challenge, along with other students and Thunder, the Nichols mascot. They also donated the $1,000 raised to the Jimmy Fund.

“The whole semester it was hard to get a lot done,” Millett said. “But as soon as we visited, it was all worth it and seeing him happy was a great experience.”

Tara Waters said she appreciated all the effort the students put in for her son and the challenge.

“To be going through academics and a social life and to make time for a kid like Quinn is really unbelievable,” she said.

According to his mother, Quinn had testing done in October that showed no growth of the disease, and he is expected to return to school in January 2020. She also said that the harrowing experience has brought to her attention how critical blood donation is.

“Since Quinn’s diagnosis we learned about the desperate need for blood and platelet donations,” she said. “We lost count of how many transfusions he had.”

She added, “It’s literally what keeps these small kids going.”

Tara Waters requested that others interested in helping can do so by donating to local blood drives.

About Nichols College

Within a supportive community, Nichols College transforms today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders through a dynamic, career-focused business and professional education.

Media Contacts

Denise Kelley