Every so often you run into one of those kids who simply has a huge heart, is full of life and kind of mischievous. Zeb Montgomery was one of those kids.
Zeb loved his family, loved to have fun, and he loved people. If you had ever met him, he would have welcomed you into his life. He was very caring, compassionate, charismatic, and charming.
Zeb was also a generous giver, a creative artist, a team player, and a gifted & talented athlete.
All of these characteristics showed up wherever Zeb was but especially when he was playing the game he loved – soccer. Soccer was that game and it was a huge part of his life. He was passionate about it. Zeb advanced to the select level.
It was the week following Mother’s Day in May of 2014 at the age of 13 that Zeb was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He battled cancer for 18 months and never stopped believing he was going to win the fight.
During Zeb’s battle with cancer his dad David kept telling him that he would beat it and travel the world telling his story. Zeb was a warrior, he beat cancer back into remission 4 times. Each time Zeb and his dad would talk and dream about the day he would travel the world and tell his story.
No parent should ever have to tell their child that they have cancer but every time Zeb’s mom and dad had to tell him the cancer had returned Zeb would just say, “this is all part of my story”. Zeb never gave up.
In mid-August of 2015 after the cancer had come back again Zeb’s Grandma Judy spent a sleepless night thinking and praying about Zeb’s vision for living. In the Bible it says, “without vision people perish”. The idea that came to her was that Zeb loved soccer and he was a giver. When he beat the cancer, he could ask people to give him soccer balls and then give them away.
Zeb’s grandparents had him over to share this idea with him. His immediate response was, “I want to do this.” He wanted to call it “Zeb’s Foundation” and he wanted to send these soccer balls wherever his Grandpa Rick traveled as a missionary. When his Grandma Judy took him home that afternoon Zeb said to her, “Grandma, this has been a good day”.
When Grandpa Rick asked Zeb why he wanted to do this, he said, “Well I want to help people and I love soccer and I want to share what I loved with others”.
For Zeb’s funeral people were invited to bring soccer balls in lieu of flowers. Exactly 834 soccer balls filled the stage to the left and right of Zeb. Another 1200 were given within a couple of weeks. Zeb’s first soccer ball arrived at a refugee camp in northern Kenya just 23 days later.
Zeb’s Foundation was born.