The 21st annual Celebration of Champions is this morning Saturday May 21, 2016 at Embarcadero Park North next to Sea Port Village. The San Diego Padres have been key participants in the celebration for the children of San Diego county dealing with Cancer. It is a very special event and an event that I know very well. This will be my ninth year participating in the annual event. I will be there with my family in honor of my son, who passed from the disease in 2008.
The San Diego Padres have always been very generous in not only there participation at this particular event, but the fact the visit the hospital quite frequently. I can remember being in the hospital with my son in 2008 and Josh Bard, Heath Bell and Tim Stauffer just showed up one day at his room. I was shocked.
Going through this as a family, I really had no idea of time, and definitely no feeling of joy. Those months I spent at Rady’s Children Hospital were a life changing experience. However seeing those Padres players in the doorway of my son’s room brought a little light into the dark hole my family and I were in. I don’t know if the players really realize what their presence does, not only for the children, but for their families who feel utterly helpless.
My son was an infant when diagnosed with this horrible disease. He had a very rare condition and it progressed fairly quickly. The sight of an infant with Cancer can drop you to your knees. When that infant is your child, the feelings are indescribable. Even writing this story eight years later, I just had to walk away from the computer.
Seeing the likes of Andrew Cashner, James Shields, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and company right in front of your face can ease some of the pain you have. I saw first hand, how the kids suffering so badly, would smile at the sight of their favorite Padres player. Call me sympathetic, but I would have to think the ball players themselves get something out of the experience of meeting these young champions. Theses kids are truly champions, the battle they endure is like no other.
For a player seeing these kids and their families should communicate a story how precious life is and how your whole life can change at the drop of a hat. The Padres players should embrace the fact they play a game for a living, and despite any struggles at the plate or the field, things could be worse. With that type of mentality, the game should become easier. The game of baseball is 100% mental and if your head isn’t in the right place, you will not succeed.
The San Diego Padres organization should be commended for their work in this regard. I had the pleasure of meeting Jake Peavy, Adrian Gonzalez, Heath Bell, and Chase Headley on many occasions. They were all very nice and their interactions with my daughter have been priceless.
The Champions event has raised more than $6.8 million dollars to support the families and children with cancer in the San Diego community. In its first year the even featured a total of 95 champions (kids with cancer) and raised $123,000 dollars. This season in it’s 21st year, the participants have grown to 362 and over $500,000 dollars has been raised so far. A truly meaningful day will be spent by most of the Padres players and the children of Rady’s Hospital.