January’s early sunsets and frigid temps can blanket some Minnesotans in the blues. Winter months can be particularly difficult for the Kirsch family of Edina. In January 2013, 8-year-old Quinn Kirsch, the youngest of Kyle and Kelly Kirsch’s four sons, died of viral myocarditis, a disease marked by inflammation and damage of the heart muscle that usually attacks otherwise healthy people, according to the Myocarditis Foundation website. The devastation of losing a child can certainly drive parents to despair. But the community of Edina, where Kyle and Kelly grew up, rallied around them. And in 2014, with the help of friends, the Kirsch family put on a pond hockey event at Centennial Lakes in honor of their son. Quinn’s Cup, now in its fourth year, raises funds for the Myocarditis Foundation and keeps alive the memory of a spirited child who embraced winter with a smile because he loved the outdoors, being active, having fun and playing hockey.
That winter weekend in 2013 had been pretty typical for the Kirsch family–some skied, others played hockey. They all enjoyed doughnuts from Jerry’s Foods on Sunday morning before Quinn’s hockey practice, where Kyle was an assistant coach. Even though Quinn, as an infant, had cardiac issues that would require a pacemaker, his condition was not life-threatening and he was medically cleared to play sports. He was in perfect health.
After dinner that evening, Quinn helped Kelly make brownies and was running around playing with the family’s rescue dog Lucky when suddenly he hit the floor. Kyle revived him through CPR. Paramedics arrived. They worked on the frightened and crying child and whisked him to the hospital, where doctors would work through the night. But Quinn’s heart couldn’t get going.
The loss of this happy, healthy kid was a shock. “It was very hard,” Kelly says. “Thankfully, the Our Lady of Grace community rallied around us, as did Edina.” Empathetic parents became keenly aware of the fragility of life. They also wanted to help the Kirsches keep Quinn’s memory alive.
Clayton Weiby has coached youth hockey for over 10 years. He first met Kyle when Kelly and her friend Amy Kolar volunteered their husbands to be assistant hockey coaches. Weiby remembers Quinn as a really good kid who had an ability to make people feel especially connected to him. “I can tell you where I was standing when Mike called to say that Quinn was gone,” Weiby says, recalling “the immediate emptiness and sadness that filled all of us.” But by summer, Weiby had “this feeling that Quinn was fading from us” and he wondered, “How do we hold him close?”
Weiby called Kyle on one of the hottest days in 2013 with an idea for a pond hockey event. “Originally, we thought, let’s get some friends together and celebrate [Quinn], with those who had a special relationship with him.” The immediate response was positive and the idea grew. During the first Quinn’s Cup in 2014, 250 kids participated. The following two years, there were 350 and then 500 kids. Quinn’s Cup has raised $65,000 for the Myocarditis Foundation.
Weiby thinks Quinn’s Cup works because it’s what Quinn represented–young kids wanting to have fun. He says, “The city of Edina has been lights-out phenomenal in their support, Centennial Lakes in particular.”
“What the event has done for us is to give us a purpose in winter around the time [Quinn] died,” Kelly says. "Instead of focusing on that, we focus on Quinn’s Cup.” This year’s Quinn’s Cup will be at Centennial Lakes on January 28. Sign up or show up and show your support.