An Edmond boy scored big this year. Not only is he in remission, but he finally gets to go outside.
He's playing the game he loves with the help of OKC Energy FC and Make-A-Wish.
Since Jude Starkey was 4, he’s had a passion for soccer, lacing up his cleats and scoring goals every chance he gets.
“I started watching more soccer, playing more soccer. Slowly I shifted toward it and quit basketball completely,” he said.
Until one day he was diagnosed with leukemia.
“The whole battle with cancer weakened his immune system a lot,” said Steven Starkey, Jude’s dad.
Thankfully, his treatment went well and a wish from OKC Energy FC and Make-A-Wish allows him to play his favorite sport anytime he wants.
“He was trying to think of something original, something that he would enjoy for years. When he came up with the idea at first, we kind of raised an eyebrow,” Jude's dad said.
Since the pandemic stalled travel for a while, Jude reimagined his wish and asked for a soccer goal.
“I thought at first, ‘wow, I can’t believe this is permanent.’ I never imagined something like this in my backyard,” said Jude.
“Seeing these kids get their wish and how excited they are in their eyes, and the way they look at their parents. It is just as amazing as you think it is and it never ever gets old,” said Brad Barghols, the CEO of Make-A-Wish.
Jude also got a special visit from his favorite players on the team.
“It’s kind of special knowing that so many kids look up to me. It is also just kind of weird because for me, I don’t see myself as anything special. I just am fortunate enough to play the game that I love for a living,” said Kyle Ihn, the goalkeeper for OKC Energy FC.
“It was amazing, someone who has gotten so far in soccer giving tips, getting to play with him and my friends who were also there,” said Jude.
Jude said he is going to keep training hard and hopes to one day play soccer professionally.