BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - When it came to Kayne Finley, two things were always certain.
The first, Finley was an avid swimmer. He started swimming at age three and was a prominent member of his high school and club teams in his town of Port Orange, Fl.
The second, Louisiana State University was Finley’s dream school. He loved the colors purple and gold and knew more about the university than anyone else in his LSU Ambassadors program, his family says.
However, Finley had to learn to live with the uncertainty of life when he was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a cancerous brain tumor, in 2016 at age 17. Less than 1 percent of patients survive DIPG to four years post-diagnosis, and it is the least researched and least funded pediatric cancer.
Just weeks after his diagnosis, Finley started the Cannonballs for Kayne Foundation to raise awareness and funding for pediatric cancer research.
In November 2017, Finley passed away just 360 days after diagnosis.
Although Finley is gone, his legacy lives on through his foundation. Finley’s family and friends are honoring his legacy through the foundation’s newest initiative, the Cannonballs Across America campaign.
With the mantra of “four guys, 40 days, 4,000 miles,” Kayne’s older brother, Keagan, a member of the LSU swim team, is riding across the country to fundraise for the Cannonballs for Kayne Foundation with friends Zach Major, Justin Crew, and the team’s newest rider, LSU head swim coach Dave Geyer.
“Cycling across America has always been a major dream of Zach’s and mine. Now we have a passionate reason and purpose to do it,” Keagan said, according to the campaign’s website.
The ride kicked off in Palo Alto, Calif. on May 17, DIPG Awareness Day. Traveling through 15 states across the country, the ride will end in Daytona Beach, Fl. on July 3.
Currently biking through Nashville, the riders will be pedaling into Baton Rouge on June 23. With close ties to Baton Rouge and the LSU community, the riders are excitedly anticipating the days they will spend in Louisiana.
“Our whole team is excited to be part of the LSU and Baton Rouge communities,” Kirsten Finley, Kayne’s mother, said. “Since Kayne fell in love with the area, we have too as evidenced by Keagan transferring and swimming for LSU.”
Keagan, the program director and lead rider for Cannonballs Across America, began his college career attending and swimming for the University of Kentucky and Florida State University. To pay homage to his brother and to live out his legacy, Keagan transferred to LSU and is now a member of the swim team.
The Cannonballs for Kayne foundation will be honored on Monday, June 24 at the Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge. The hospital will be dedicating an oncology patient room and conference room to the Cannonballs for Kayne Foundation, as well as presenting the foundation with a grant.
There will also be a celebration held on the evening of June 24 at Creole Cabana in an effort to raise money for DIPG research and prevention. Members of the LSU and Baton Rouge communities are encouraged to attend and support the Cannonballs for Kayne Foundation and the Cannonballs Across America initiative.
The Cannonballs Across America team will be riding into Baton Rouge on Sunday, June 23 to Chick-Fil-A on Burbank Drive at 1 p.m.