The San Diego Padres just participated in the Rady’s Children’s Hospital Celebration of Champions. The emotions of the annual event are something that several Padres players take to heart. Here is what they had to say about the day.
This past Saturday, the Padres participated in the 24th Rady’s Children’s Hospital Celebration of Champions.
The run/walk takes place each year as a celebration to kids that are afflicted with cancer. The event recognizes those that have been lost to the disease, those that are currently fighting it, and finally those that have won the battle against cancer. It is a very emotional time. While in attendance, you are given a great perspective on life. For some, the event can be life-changing.
The Celebration of Champions takes place in the Embarcadero area of the bay. It provides a lot of financial relief for families in need. I have had the pleasure of participating in the last 11 Celebration of Champions events. My son, David, passed away from the disease in 2008, and my family and I make sure to celebrate his life each year. The emotions of the event can be challenging to describe.
The kids and families take a lot of joy in interacting with the Padres players. At the same time, you get a sense in talking to the Padres that the celebration is a surreal experience and they get a lot of joy from the event, as well. Rady’s Children’s Hospital does excellent things for the families that are afflicted by the disease. Events such as this are vital for the kids and for their families who are going through one of the most challenging tasks anyone ever has to endure. The Padres are always in attendance, and that helps energize the patients and their families.
For Brad Wieck, the event this weekend hit close to home. The 6-foot-9 left-handed pitcher was diagnosed with cancer in January, and though he has battled the disease and prevailed, there are still a lot of emotions for him on the subject. “You get to interact with the kids and put a smile on their face for a little bit. We, as ballplayers, take a lot for granted. We get to live this lifestyle while playing a kids game for a living. It really hits home and is a humbling experience, especially for my girlfriend and me. I was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and I have been going through that since January. My girlfriend has been battling melanoma for the past four years as well,” Wieck told EVT. He loved spending time with the kids. Interacting with Wieck on Saturday, you could see the emotions on his face. He genuinely enjoyed his time at the event. “It is tough to see, but it is good to be a part of that. We are just trying to make someone’s day a little better. It was a great experience. The angel walk before brought a lot of emotions to me, but in the end, you get to see the survivors,” he said.
Most of the Padres had their first experience with the event this year, and they enjoyed it. “I thought it was awesome. It was my first time there. Obviously, the beginning is very sad when they remember those that were lost. I thought the event was awesome and I would love to do it every year that I am here. For them, it is special to have support. It puts life into perspective. Many kids are struggling for their lives, and we are out here playing a game for a living and making a pretty good living at it. Sometimes we get too caught up in baseball and make it a matter of life and death. But it really isn’t. It is just what we do for a living,” Matt Wisler said. The right-handed pitcher was floored by the experience and attained a lot from his time with the kids.
Being a relatively new father, it hit hard for Adam Warren as he interacted with the kids. “I had a great time with it. I thought it was well run, and any time I can give back to the community is special. The event was really special for me. It was nice to interact with the kids and run with them. Just seeing the smile on their faces means a lot. Hearing some of these kids and parents talk puts things into perspective. It motivated me that there are bigger things than baseball. It is inspiring how positive they stay through such a tough time. We play baseball for a living. It is nice to go out in the community and do some good,” Warren said. Perspective is a big thing the two of us talked about in discussing the event. The Padres relief pitcher feels like he is in a better place now after this weekend’s events.
These kids are real heroes. They go each day and put up a fight for their lives. Most never complain about their health. They inspire all they interact with, and it is essential to reflect on what they deal with daily. Cancer knows no boundaries. It can affect anyone at any time.
Ty France has been in San Diego for a few years. The former Aztec knew of the event but had not participated before. “It was a lot of fun. To see the smile on these kids faces when they get to walk or run with us was great. The group of guys we had out there was awesome. It shows how there are bigger things out there than baseball. These kids are fighting every day in their lives. It is eye-opening and touches the heart to see what they have to go through,” France said, sincerely. He gathered a ton of feelings about the event and took what these kids deal with to heart. It affected him.
Rookie Austin Allen has only been on the club for a little over a week. He had the pleasure of attending the Celebration of Champions and absorbed the event. “It was amazing. Seeing all the kids run around. Especially with what they have to go through. It is unbelievable, the spirit that they have. I was glad I was there and able to help in any way. Being there with them was something very special, and it is something I will always remember. It shows you that there are a lot more important things than baseball. It puts everything into perspective,” Allen said. Though a rookie, he has had experience with the public in events such as this. Giving back to the community while staying grounded as a professional athlete is a goal.
Most players take home a lot from the event. It is truly eye-opening, and I like to think it helps them in the everyday grind that they are on. There are many failures in the game of baseball. You will fail. No matter how good you are, the sport will humble you in a heartbeat. Failing is inevitable. Getting back up and performing after failure is what makes major leaguers different than minor leaguers. Perspective in an event such as this can only help a professional baseball player. Most players absorbed what they saw, and each should have impressive growth as a person from their experience. That can only help them on the field each day that they play the game of baseball.