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You can’t help but smile when you see Mathew Sullivan smile.

The Park Hall resident, who was diagnosed with a t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia six days before last Christmas and continues his fight today, will be this year’s recipient of the third annual Claire’s Cup hosted by the St. Mary’s Youth Soccer.

The Claire’s Cup, which begins at 6 tonight at Chancellor’s Run Regional Park in Great Mills, is part of the two-day Kohl’s American Cup sponsored by U.S. Youth Soccer.

St. Mary’s Youth Soccer president Bill Oosterink said that proceeds from the tournament will go to the Sullivan family.

“We have 180 teams signed up this year, our largest group yet,” Oosterink said. “Friday night is the Claire’s Cup. It’s all adults, four-on-four. We identify a child each year that is battling cancer and donate the proceeds to the family. This year, we chose Mathew Sullivan, he’s a 3-year-old that’s battling leukemia. St. Mary’s Youth Soccer is delighted to have the opportunity to assist this deserving family through Claire’s Cup.”

According to the St. Mary’s Youth Soccer website, Claire’s Cup was established by SMYS in 2011 to support one of the soccer league’s players, Claire Broadhead, and her family during Claire’s ongoing challenges with leukemia. Broadhead is back on the soccer field and doing well, even though she continues to face challenges related to her leukemia diagnosis.

For this year’s recipient of the award, the website stated that Sullivan has entered the maintenance stage of his treatment, which requires the family to travel to Children’s Medical Center in Washington, D.C., every month for treatment and every other month for five consecutive days to continue chemotherapy.

Prior to that, a long road started in 2012 for Mathew when fevers induced by a double ear infection persisted despite antibiotics. They were the first signs that something was unusual. When Mathew’s pediatrician found that his white blood cell count and other blood counts were low, Mathew and his parents went to Children’s Hospital. An extensive blood test and a bone marrow biopsy showed leukemia cells in Mathew’s system.

Mathew’s cancer treatments began early the next morning.

Doctors performed surgery to insert an intravenous port into his chest to administer his first round of chemotherapy before giving him a spinal tap.

“They were ready for us,” Danielle Sullivan, Mathew’s mother said of the staff at Children’s Hospital in a Sept. 6 article of The Enterprise.

Mathew lost 14 pounds since his diagnosis, but did not get sick from chemotherapy since his diagnosis. Both Danielle and Chris, her husband, say Mathew may look sick, but never acts like it.

The September article stated that Melissa Sullivan recalled that Mathew used to have curly locks. They began to fly from Mathew’s head one day when Danielle tried to blow-dry her youngest son’s hair.

Mathew can become tired and also struggle with his appetite. The medications he must take affect his eating and hydration patterns, and Danielle and Chris have to ensure their son eats and drinks enough each day and takes his appetite-enhancing medicine. Not always being allowed to go outside or having to wear a hat in the sun make up some of the other challenges Mathew faces.

Danielle Sullivan has only just returned to full-time work at the physical plant at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, though taking care of Mathew still restrains her time there. Chris is a full-time driver for Copsey’s Septic Services and Storm Designs Inc. in Mechanicsville.

The Kohl’s American Cup youth action will kick off at 9 a.m. Saturday at Chancellor’s Run. The four-on-four tournament with six players to a team will have 20-minute games for children in 8-U to 16-U age groups continuing throughout the day.

For more information on this weekend’s action, go to

The tournament is in critical need of additional volunteers from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Field marshals are needed and this requires a smartphone in order to use an app for logging game scores. There are a few other volunteer needs such as manning the informational tents as well.

The tournament is also in search of the coach/players for a U-18 high school team entered by the name of Team Wild Flamingoes.

For more information, email Josh Crowder at Ted Pugh, special to The Enterprise, contributed to this report.