Berry Volleyball to help raise awareness of cancer among children

Crayon drive and T-shirt giveaway to punctuate Sunday afternoon’s match v. Birmingham Southern

by Michael Shaw

The Berry volleyball match this Sunday, Oct. 25, will be more colorful than usual. 

The volleyball team will play Birmingham Southern to close out the home schedule, but the match is only part of the day’s activities designed to celebrate the courage of 7-year-old Sophie Piller. 

Sophie, daughter of Chris Piller, the team’s physician and an orthopedic surgeon at Harbin Clinic in Rome, was diagnosed in December 2013 with hepatoblastoma, a rare form of cancer. 

Sophie Piller, cancer survivor and honorary Berry
Volleyball coach (Photo courtesy of Kelly Moore)

As she underwent chemotherapy and recovered from surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, Sophie would often spend her time coloring. 

“I used boxes and boxes of crayons while I was in the hospital, and I know just how much these crayons mean to all the kids who are in the hospital now,” Sophie said. 

Thus, last spring, when Scottish Rite issued a call for crayons for its younger patients, Harbin Clinic got in touch with Sophie. 

The Pillers agreed to allow Scottish Rite to feature Sophie as the spokesperson for its crayon drive. Sophie and her mother, Kathy Piller, ultimately delivered more than 1,000 donated boxes of crayons to Scottish Rite, according to Harbin Clinic.

Sophie’s story inspired Mika Robinson, head coach of Berry Volleyball, and this Sunday’s crayon drive was born. 

“It’s a way that we can use our sport as a platform to impact people in our community, or even in this case, beyond our community,” Robinson said. 

Accompanying Sunday’s crayon box drive will be the giveaway of tie-dye T-shirts to the first 100 fans. In addition, fans will get crayons and paper to draw pictures and create cards for young cancer patients at Scottish Rite. 

And Sophie Piller will be making appearance as an honorary coach of the 18-5 Vikings. 

“I hope it makes Sophie’s day,” Robinson said. “Beyond that, we want to brighten the day of a lot of patients down at Scottish Rite.” 

To prepare for Sunday’s festivities, volleyball team took time to tie-dye all 100 shirts for the giveaway. 

“We view sports as a gift,” Robinson said. “It’s something we all enjoy doing, and it’s a passion, but it very much can be a platform in order to help significant causes and to better the lives of other people that aren’t as fortunate.” 

Sunday’s Southern Athletic Assn. match begins at 2 p.m. in the Cage Athletic and Recreation Center on Berry College’s campus. 

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