Kenny Arnold Continues to Inspire
“We need the continued support of Iowa fans”
CHICAGO, Illinois – Hawkeye great Kenny Arnold continues to battle health issues and is making progress, thanks in large part to donations from loyal Iowa fans. The former guard – and leading scorer on the 1980 Final Four team – suffered from a brain tumor and several strokes and was in dire condition 18 months ago when Hawkeye fans stepped up on Arnold’s behalf.
Today, Arnold and his Iowa teammates – along with his “Teammates for Life” – are asking for Hawkeye fans to continue to help Arnold as he pushes himself through incredible physical challenges.
“We want to appeal to the greatest fan base in the nation – Hawkeye fans,” said Mike Henry, the Executive Director of the Kenny Arnold Foundation and another member of that 1980 Final Four team. “We’re all just thrilled with the progress that Kenny is making, but we need the continued support of the Iowa fans to stay on this path.”
Thanks to a few fundraising efforts in late 2016 and early 2017 – including sales of TFL shirts, a “White Out” at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and a golf outing in Storm Lake – Arnold was able to begin receiving physical therapy in July of 2017, according to Henry.
“The first time we took Kenny to physical therapy, he could sit at the edge of a table for 15 seconds,” said Henry. “Now – six months later – Kenny is able to ride an exercise bike for about 10 to 12 minutes at a time. In fact, he starts out each therapy session now with a 10 to 12-minute warmup on the exercise bike.”
Quite a turnaround for the Iowa basketball legend who was almost done fighting in August of 2016. (You can catch up on the details of several events that took place between August of 2016 and July of 2017 in other stories on this website.)
Physical therapy produces results
Henry said that Arnold started his therapy by attending sessions once per week from late July of 2017 through the end of August last year. “Then, we took Kenny to ‘Fry Fest’ and that was a big motivator for him,” said his long-time friend and caretaker. “Kenny was able to see so many fans and several of his teammates that weekend – a lot of people who really care.”
After returning to Chicago, Arnold began getting physical therapy twice per week and the results were almost immediate.
“Kenny couldn’t even roll over last July,” said Henry. “But he started working right from the start. He had things to work on to become more self-sufficient and improve his quality of life. Rolling over, feeding himself, trying to propel himself in his wheelchair … it sounds so simple, but it’s huge. The types of things that the rest of us take for granted.”
Arnold’s progress has been remarkable. In addition to riding the exercise bike, Henry says that Arnold lifts weights and has even been able to stand up, with assistance, for more than two minutes at a time. “He stood up for 2 minutes and 20 seconds a couple of weeks ago,” said Henry.
“He’s very proud of what he’s accomplishing,” Henry continued. “When I watch him working, I get tears in my eyes. It just makes you believe that if Kenny can do this, then any of us can do anything that we put our minds to.”
But, he cannot do it alone.
Arnold has two major allies, or support systems, that so many people don’t have. One is Mike Henry, who has taken such excellent care of his best friend and become as much of an inspiration as Arnold himself.
The other big support for Arnold is the Hawkeye faithful.
Hawkeye fans step up in a big way
“We were able to get Kenny started in physical therapy because of the money we raised with the shirts, the White Out and the golf outing,” said Henry. “Otherwise, I hate to think of the shape that he would still be in today. He was in such unbearable pain. The physical therapist told us that once he started gaining some strength, the pain would be reduced … and that has been true.
“Kenny’s quality of life has greatly improved. We want to continue on this path. But we need the support of the Hawkeye fans to keep things going.”
Henry credits Iowa native and University of Iowa graduate Mark Kaufman with providing a big assist to one of the Hawks’ greatest playmakers. “Mark Kaufman founded Athletico and he’s a former Iowa trainer and big Hawkeye fan,” said Henry. “He helped get Kenny into a physical therapy facility near his nursing home in Chicago.”
But, according to Henry, they have to pay out-of-pocket for the twice-per-week therapy sessions. And that’s where the donations from Iowa fans come into play.
“We want to do everything we can to improve Kenny’s quality of life,” said Henry. “If he can fight as hard as he’s been fighting – for more than 30 years – then he surely deserves all the support we can give him.
“So, if Iowa fans are reading this and can make donations on our KennyArnoldFoundation.org website, that would be wonderful. Anything the fans can do, we’d really appreciate it.”
Henry says that the goal is for Arnold to continue getting physical therapy twice per week. “We’re trying to help him in any way we can,” he said. “Right now, the physical therapy is doing Kenny a world of good, so we want to keep it going.”
Arnold is grateful for the love and support
Henry adds that Arnold is forever grateful to the Hawkeye faithful who stepped up for him a year ago to help push him to keep fighting. The results are obvious to anyone who has seen Arnold’s progress in the last two years.
“We definitely want to share Kenny’s story – and his progress – with everyone … and share the positive effect that everyone’s generosity has had on him,” said Henry. “We cannot thank Iowa fans enough. This is what makes playing at the University of Iowa so special, even now, almost 40 years later. The Hawkeye fans never forget you … and they continue to support the Hawks, no matter what the hurdles are that we face.”
Henry said that he would like to find a way to get Arnold back to Iowa City and the state of Iowa again this year sometime.
“Kenny wants to give a big ‘thank you’ to all the Hawkeye fans for all the love and support,” said Henry. “It’s had such a tremendous effect on him, not only physically, but also emotionally.
“I’ve been telling my friends for years that Iowa has the greatest fan base in the world. And they continue to surprise me with how much they care. Without that generosity, I don’t think Kenny would be around today. But with all the love and support he’s been shown, he just continues to fight and make improvements, day after day.”