Tim Vorenkamp – a beloved recent graduate of JSerra who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and subsequently founded the Live For Others nonprofit foundation – succumbed to his illness on Jan. 10. Vorenkamp, a standout volleyball player, was 18 years old. A service was held Jan. 15 at Mariners Church in Irvine and his friends celebrated his life with a paddle-out at Oak Street Beach in Laguna the following day.
Vorenkamp was diagnosed with Stage 3 Synovial Sarcoma in 2010 when he was in eighth grade. Declared cancer-free the following year after six months of continuous chemotherapy and two months of radiation, he had several relapses before he died, but never gave up the hope of helping others who suffered from the disease.
Recruited from high school to the top volleyball school in the nation, Vorenkamp instead chose to attend UC Berkeley. Last year he had an aggressive treatment to shrink a tumor in his lung and in the fall began college, where he immersed himself in campus life and joined the Kappa Alpha fraternity. In late September, he began to have breathing problems and returned home.
Through the hundreds of doctor visits, countless blood work tests, over 20 hospital stays and 10 surgeries, he kept striving to bring joy to those around him, his family remembered. During his years of battling cancer, he raised over $50,000 for nonprofit organizations such as Make-a-Wish, as well as founding his own charity.
His Live for Others Foundation raises awareness and funds research into Synovial Cell Sarcoma, which currently has no cure. Petra Vorenkamp, his mother, said the foundation has raised $27,000 to date. The promotional video can be found on Youtube and Vorenkamp’s website, liveforothersfoundation.com.
JSerra Catholic High School Headmaster Rich Meyer broke the news to students and parents. “With heavy hearts, we wanted to let you know that Tim Vorenkamp, class of 2015, passed away Sunday night surrounded by his loved ones,” Meyer said via newsletter. “Tim was a very strong student and a good volleyball player; he matriculated to UC Berkeley this past fall but had to return home early due to the progression of his cancer. Tim’s abilities in the classroom and on the court, however, pale in comparison to his qualities as an individual – mature, friendly, kind, urbane, grounded, and, perhaps most evident, courageous.”
It was Vorenkamp’s indefatigable love for life that inspired friends, his younger brother Patrick and his parents, Petra and Pieter. “From the beginning, it’s always been a little unbelievable where he gets his wisdom,” his mother said. “On one hand, it’s heartbreaking. On the other, it makes you so proud.”
Vorenkamp explained in the video promoting his charity that “Battling cancer, you never lose. And you never will lose even if one day the fight ends. When something like that happens, you never lose to it. You just start a new journey, and that is kind of what life is all about. It’s that you find journeys and you find paths that you take to get to that final goal of whatever it is you want in your life.”