St. Thomas Aquinas "Fight for Cancer" Tribute

Photo courtesy of Broward HS Baseball

SHAUNI LYNCH, FHSAA

PHOTO GALLERY

It started with a simple question, “Why don’t we do a cancer awareness game?” From there, St. Thomas Aquinas baseball coach, Troy Cameron, took the idea and hit a homerun with it.

At the start of the season, one of St. Thomas Aquinas’ coaches, Mike Rodriguez, had to leave the team when his father was diagnosed with stage 3 stomach cancer. From Cameron’s mother-in-law to five player’s mothers who have battled or are battling some form of cancer, the news of Coach Mike Rodriguez’s father hit home from everyone. The team decided to shave their heads in support of their coach and his dad, but wanted to continue supporting cancer awareness.  

On March 21, the Raiders hosted Pompano Beach but were playing for a much bigger reason. They were playing to support the cancer fighters and survivors, honor the ones who were taken, and raise money for cancer research. In the “Fight for Cancer” Tribute, St. Thomas players dedicated their game to those close to them who have been affected by cancer.

The players and coaches wore special “Fight 4 Cancer” jerseys in the 7-4 win over Pompano Beach. Each jersey had the name of a cancer survivor or victim that they were playing for and at the conclusion of the game, the jerseys were presented to the honorees in attendance.

Teddy Messiner, senior catcher committed to Rollins College, was playing for his friend. “I got to play for a good friend who is the same age as me.  His name is Chris Williford and he is also a student at St Thomas Aquinas.  He battled leukemia and is now on the road to recovery.  He is currently in a wheelchair and hasn't been able to play the sport he loves, so it was good to go out there and play for him with his name on my back.  It reminded me to not take the game or opportunity to play it for granted because just 2 years ago, Chris could do anything he wanted to.”

Prior to the “Fight for Cancer’ Tribute, more than 600 T-shirts were made and sold to support the fight against cancer. The Raiders raised just over $2,000 for cancer research.

The St. Thomas Aquinas baseball team shows that there is more to the sport than just scoring runs and winning games. They show how important coming together as a team is to support the community.

 “This game was important for me because it gave me a chance to understand how cancer affects my players and coaches.  It gave me a chance to learn more about them.  Before this game I didn't know much about cancer and although I am no expert, I do feel that I am more aware of the disease.  I am blessed with the opportunity to lead 25 young men (ages 15-18) by being their high school baseball coach and I want to give them an experience that they will never forget.  This experience and game is something that not only they will ever forget but something I will never forget.  I can't thank my coaches and parents enough for all their hard work in making these experiences special,” said Cameron.

 

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