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Examiner
  • 'Elves' surprise soccer player battling cancer

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  • Nick Hibbeler perhaps had his most memorable Christmas yet.
    On the morning of Christmas Eve, the Park Hill High School soccer player was instructed not to log into Facebook or anything social media-related. Later that afternoon, a limosine mysteriously arrived at his Northland home and he got inside. The limo eventually stopped at the Independence Events Center and once Nick Hibbeler entered the arena, hundreds of his Park Hill teammates, family, friends and members of his community donning purple braclets that said “HibbsStrong” cheered upon his arrival.
    Nick, 16, had a smile etched on his face once he realized this was all intended for him. And judging by Nick’s elated reaction, one would never guess he has an aggressive form of cancer that he’s been battling since last summer.
    “This is a celebration of Nick and his battle with cancer,” said Sarah Miskew, Director of Marketing at the Independence Events Center.
    On Christmas Eve, the Independence Events Center hosted a scrimmage soccer game between Nick and his Park Hill teammates versus former KC Wizards players.
    “The game’s purpose was to raise Nick’s spirits with his ongoing cancer battle,” said Miskew.
    According to Miskew, the game was coordinated by The Elves of Christmas Present. This charity is made up of anonomymous benefactors in Kansas City who work behind the scenes to surprise sick children and their families with special gifts at Christmas, says the group’s website. Miskew said The Elves collaborated with area businesses and organizations to set up the event here in Independence.
    The Kansas City St. Andrew Pipes & Drums provided some musical entertainment before the game began and Dave Stewart from Metro Sports emceed the special event.
    Nick joined his teammates to play against the professional players for a couple of hours followed by a shootout.
    To donate to The Elves of Christmas Present so they can surprise sick children next year, contact 816-842-7444.
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