A local community is celebrating Kam Chumbler on the basketball court. Kam’s Challenge, a tournament made up of players and coaches who knew Kam, played a game in his honor. Chumbler died last May. He was 20 years old. He was an organ donor and his selfless act lives on in the lives of others.
Coach Mike Chumbler led the West Kentucky Community and Technical College Basketball team to victory Saturday in honor of his son who loved the game.
“He was a good kid. He was a good basketball player, but he was a better kid,” Chumbler said about his son. He’s a kid who is remembered on the court, but also in the lived of Paul and Julie Mattingly. Paul was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and was in desperate need of a lung transplant. Kam saved the day. “The whole time we were going down to the hospital, I was thinking somebody died,” Mattingly said.
“We had oxygen all throughout our house. We had liquid oxygen, tanks, he couldn't even take it off for a minute,” Julie Chumbler commented. Now, Paul says he has strong lungs. They’re the lungs of a McCracken County High School Mustang team captain and player at WKCTC.
“I'm so honored to have lungs from Kam because he was a great kid. It sounds like he was a great kid. I just wish I had met him,” Paul added. There’s a difference in the new lungs, too. “Even to this day, I have the urge to shoot basketball and I haven't played since our son died in 2008.”
Coach Chumbler says some days are better than others. He hopes Kam’s gifts of giving continue to reach beyond the hardwood. He hopes others are inspired to donate their organs. “All you have to do is sign the back of your driver's license.”
All proceeds from the event go to the WKCTC basketball program.
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Paducah, KY 42003