HUMBOLDT, Iowa - A softball player from the North Central Conference is taking on the biggest opponent of her life – cancer. A graduating senior, Ashlyn Clark is supposed to be enjoying the moment. Instead, she makes trips from Humboldt to Rochester for cancer treatments all while wearing a smile on her face.
“I was so sad about it, I was very emotional when it first happened,” said Kyah Arnold. “I cried for days off-and-on at school when other kids didn't know and I was one of the ones that knew.”
“It's a mother's worst nightmare to find out your daughter has something that an antibiotic can't fix overnight,” added Kristi Clark.
Arnold is the best friend of Clark’s daughter, Ashlyn, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the beginning of the season.
“At first I was terrified because nobody in my family has had cancer,” said Ashlyn Clark. “So the whole regiment of all of the treatments...I was like ‘what are we doing? I don't understand.’”
For a moment it looked like the Wildcats would have to fill an empty right field. Not so. Ashlyn's motivation to beat this ugly disease is to play softball. While Ashlyn has been Kyah's unfailing supporter on the field, their roles in life seem to have reversed.
“I think it's really changed my view on certain things in life where you have to live life to the fullest,” said Arnold. "She’s just a kid right now and so seeing her deal with all of this and just being so strong with all of this has been very inspiring.”
Clark continues to inspire not just her teammates but the softball community as a whole with fans doing what they can to raise money and umpires even turning their check back in at the end of the night.
“It goes outside of the community with surrounding towns - the teams that we've played - almost every place we've been, they've done something,” said head coach, Doug Van Pelt.
When Ashlyn is not out on the ball field, you'll likely find her at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester where she receives her chemo treatments. Two rounds are already complete with the fifth and final one is expected to be done sometime in August.
“I'm scared but it’s kind of an insured scared like everything's going to be okay,” said Clark. “Just my faith has helped me out a lot.”
KIMT will continue to follow Ashlyn’s story. Thursday is “Ashlyn’s Night at the Ball Park” where admission is a freewill donation. There will be a variety of activities with the main event being a celebrity softball game featuring former Iowa and Iowa State famous athletes.