Fundraiser For Cancer Patients Is "Pitcher Perfect" - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Fundraiser For Cancer Patients Is "Pitcher Perfect"

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By: Claire Powell 
cpowell@myabc5.com
@clairenpowell

 

A passion for baseball and a life-changing cancer diagnosis led an 11-year-old boy and his family to create a "Pitcher Perfect" fundraiser.

Carson Cooper has battled Leukemia since May of 2011. Carson came home from track practice and had bruises covering his legs from his knees down.

After five trips to the doctor's office, the Coopers got the news no family wants to hear.

"It's an unbelievable feeling to be told your child has cancer, it's horrible…it really is," said Pam Cooper, Carson's mother.

After a month at Blank Children's Hospital, Carson came home and found a gift. A box was filled with Tampa Bay Ray's gear autographed by Johnny Damon and long-time family friend and Ray's pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.

Hellickson had watched Carson grow up his entire life. He visited Carson in the hospital and was amazed how resilient he had acted.

"I could hardly watch. I couldn't take the needles and stuff, it hit me hard," said Hellickson.

Instead of dwelling, Carson and his parents created the "Kids Living Brave" charity to give back to other cancer patients. Carson would go up and down the halls visiting other patients and delivering the "bravery basket" that helped him so much.

"I just feel like they need help, it has to be hard for them," said Carson.

One day, the idea struck Pam and Jack Cooper.

"Carson loves baseball, Jeremy loves Carson, he wants to do something to give back... " said Pam, with an increasing smile.

The "Pitcher Perfect" event would be, in fact, perfect.

They invited Hellickson to have a baseball clinic to teach kids and cancer patients how to play baseball.

"We have no idea what goes on behind the scenes and to see him running around doing stuff he loves to do, with a smile on his face, it means a lot to me. I love helping out," said Hellickson.

"Not all fundraisers are speeches and stuff. This one's actually fun, kids get to learn how to play baseball better, be a better baseball player and you don't have to listen to speeches," said Carson. "It's cool, I think he's helping a lot of kids by doing this today."

This years' second annual "Pitcher Perfect" event had another element added. LifeServe Blood Center joined the event to donate units of blood to cancer patients. The Cooper's said they had a waiting list of people ready to donate. Cancer patients are the number one recipients of all blood products.

"It feels good because I know it's going to help other kids. The money's going to Blank to help find a cure," said Carson.

"He's just so full of life and joy and loves being a kid," said Hellickson.

Carson has been in remission since late 2011 and he has eight more months of remission left to go.

 

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