Kurt Suzuki is a major league catcher. In this touching article written for The Player’s Tribune, he tells us how he met Trucker, a 3-year-old with advanced cancer:
I remember when I first learned about you and your family. I was back home in Maui about two years ago, when my mom said to me, “Hey, you wanna buy a T-shirt for this fundraiser?”
“Sure.” I said. “What’s it for?”
She said it was to raise money to help a young kid battling Stage IV neuroblastoma. I didn’t know at the time that that was an aggressive form of cancer that attacks the nervous system, or that, when you were diagnosed at 19 months, the doctors had given you just a 30% chance of living to the age of five. All I knew was that my mom said one of the guys I used to play baseball with was now a firefighter, and that the fundraiser was for one of his coworker’s sons. So I bought the T-shirt.
For people who don’t pay attention to baseball, catchers crouch behind home plate. Their job is to catch the 100 mph fastballs and the sliders and the curveballs and any other pitches flung by the pitcher standing 60.5 feet away. So they know a little about courage.
Complicating the catcher’s job is the batter. Batters try to hit the ball toward the playing field but sometimes they miss. When they partially miss so the ball glances off the bat and careens in a slightly different direction, it is called a foul tip. Foul tips often end up hitting the catcher. Catchers have some padding but are expected to play through the bumps and bruises the ball inevitably brings. So they know something about pain, too:
I’m a professional athlete, Trucker. I’ve met some of the toughest, strongest guys on earth. And I don’t wish, even for a moment, that I was like them.
But I’ve seen the strength you’ve shown throughout your battle, and I can honestly say that I wish I was more like you. I can only dream of having the sort of courage I’ve seen you show since you came into my life.
That’s why you are my hero.
Kurt Suzuki noticed that Trucker and his parents dealt with pain on a regular basis. But they faced their ordeal with enough courage and good cheer to impress Mr. Suzuki. When he tried to recruit some of his more famous colleagues to lend support, they, in turn, were impressed:
Now, I know that names like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Buster Posey probably don’t mean anything to you, but let me tell you, Trucker … these are some of the best baseball players on the planet, and they are so influential. They have huge followings. And they were moved enough by your story to participate in the challenge and let their fans know that they are supporting you and your family in your fight.
Your story is reaching millions upon millions of people all over the world.
That’s really something special.
Here’s hoping they continue to support Trucker and his family along their journey.
Here’s to the empathy shown by Mr. Suzuki and his colleagues. May their charity increase.
And here’s to every Trucker out there — and within us. May we do whatever we can to help them.
Read more of Dr. Donnelly’s Reflections of a Grinder on The PediaBlog here.