Oregon Ducks and Washington Huskies fans come together in the fight against leukemia

EUGENE – The roots of rivalry run deep in college athletics, but there are times when more pressing matters arise. News spread around college football circles this weekend about the diagnosis and battle with leukemia by Evelyn “Evie” Johnson, a six-year Washington Huskies fan.

As the news hit social media, Big Ten Conference rivals Washington Huskies and Oregon Ducks fans pooled resources worth $46,000 in GoFundMe donations in just three days to treat Evie’s leukemia. In a rare show of rivalrous collaboration, the two fan bases have put aside their differences for the greater good.

Johnson lives with her father, Kyle, and her mother, Whitney, in a small town called White Salmon in southwest Washington, which Kyle describes as an equal split of fans from Washington and Oregon. “There’s a lot of traveling back and forth when you live here on the border,” Kyle said. “It’s the first time in my life I’ve seen the fan bases interact with each other in such a cordial way.”

Fans listen as Mat Kearney performs after the Oregon Ducks' Spring Game on Saturday, April 27, 2024

Fans listen as Mat Kearney performs after the Oregon Ducks’ Spring Game on Saturday, April 27. 2024 / Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA

Evie’s battle with leukemia began in January when she noticed strange bruising around her eyes, coupled with unexplained back pain. After being evaluated and released from the hospital in February, Evie’s condition worsened and she was taken to Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel in Portland, where doctors again couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

Just a few weeks later, Evie was officially diagnosed with leukemia. “Our lives were turned upside down that day,” Kyle said. “The worst thing you can hear as a parent.”

Evie is now struggling with the induction therapy and, according to her father, is responding positively. As the donations continue to pour in, Kyle is grateful for the collaboration between two usually opposing groups of fans. “It’s humbling, it’s really the only way I can really say it for myself,” Kyle said. “It’s going to mean a lot to my family.”

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