The Union Recorder

Features

April 14, 2014

College baseball team adopts special fan

MILLEDGEVILLE — An avid baseball fan from nearby Macon’s Western Little League took a trip to play with the big boys last week.

Luke Russo, 10, is a fourth-grader at Heard Elementary facing a long cancer treatment process.

Georgia College head baseball coach Tom Carty heard the story and chose a memorable way to support Russo.

Participating in practice, wearing all the college gear and throwing out the first pitch last Friday was a pleasant break for the young boy.

The 10-year-old’s Bobcat adventure began last Thursday at the Division II college team’s practice.

“We tried to make his day a little brighter,” Carty said. “I think he was a little overwhelmed, but you want to overwhelm someone with that kind of event.”

The special guest was nervous at first before becoming one of the guys by the end of practice.

Carty said a chunk of the team shaved their heads to honor Russo.

“I mentioned to one of our seniors, Mike McGraw, and said ‘hey Mike would you do this’,” the coach said. “It didn’t take a second, and he said absolutely.”

McGraw organized nearly 10 other teammates to do the same.

Carty believes that athletes “get it” when it comes to supporting those engulfed in struggle.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to win but still having perspective in life. I think we try to teach guys that,” Carty said. “They get it 100 percent.”

The disease reared its effects on Russo early in 2014.

Father Michael Attaway discovered something strange while watching a favorite TV show one February night. The 10-year-old boy was sleeping.

“Luke’s breathing was just terrible,” he said.

A rush emergency room visit revealed a “huge mass” around Russo’s heart and arteries.

“At that point, we didn’t know what it was,” Attaway said.

The mass is 5 x 6 inches and wrapped around his trachea, leaving Russo with half his air supply.

On Feb. 12, he went to Egleston Children’s Hospital in Atlanta and was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin or T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma.

As of Friday, Russo completed his second month of chemotherapy treatment. Attaway said it’s a nearly three and a half year treatment road for males.

“It’s intense and pretty heartbreaking, but he is holding in there. He is a soldier,” Attaway said.

Before the disease hit, Russo could best be described as a ninja always being on the run.

His family says that attitude hasn’t changed for cancer.

“He is not scared. He’s kept his head up,” Attaway said. “This is one thing in life that truly makes you take it one day at a time.”

McGraw, an infielder for Georgia College, has seen cancer hit his family.

He remembers younger days looking up to older baseball players as well and the power lying in a simple gesture.

“Every baseball player was that kid at some point,” McGraw said. “When I was younger, I had older guys take me under their wing and show me the way, it’s paying back I guess. For kids that come watch the games, it’s something to look forward to and strive for.”

Attaway said his son “really enjoyed his time out there.”

“Hopefully, he’ll be a lifelong fan and fully recover through this illness,” Carty said. “Maybe, one day he will play for us.”

The Bobcats use baseball for multiple community engagement projects. Growing the game means a great deal.

“All of it is about trying to get people excited for Georgia College baseball. You want to expose people to that with your projects,” Carty said.

An upcoming Wednesday game against Valdosta State is Miracle League Day.

“It’s a fundraiser that we hope everybody in the community and students comes to drop a dollar,” Carty said. “We’ll pass the hat like the old days. We raised close to $500 one year and gave that back to Miracle League of Macon to make facility improvements.”

The Miracle League provides children with mental and/or physical challenges an opportunity to play baseball as a team member in an organized league. The Miracle League allows these children an opportunity to finally play baseball for the first time in their lives.  

Each Miracle League player has an able-bodied “buddy” that protects the player at all times, as well as assisting according to his or her needs.

Bobcat baseball will travel to Macon May 2 serving as buddies for a game.

“That’s powerful for our guys,” the head coach said. “As much as our guys get out of going to Miracle League what a great time to have those kids come to watch us play and be fans of our team.”

Assisting others in the area to learn about and love “America’s pastime” will mean more than wins and accolades years from now.

“Baseball is dear to a lot of people’s hearts, and if you can pass it down, that’s all we are trying to do,” McGraw said.

To view or purchase the Neighbor's feature page published in the print edition click here:

http://tinyurl.com/nckbbno

 

 

1
Text Only
Features
  • SRC 5.jpg Summer Reading Club experiments and explores

    The Summer Reading Club (SRC) at the Twin Lakes Library System finished a science-themed journey this week.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 07-12 Thomas Archer 3.jpg Milledgeville-based songwriter signs publishing deal

    When Thomas Archer moved from Milledgeville to Nashville, Tenn. two weeks after Georgia College graduation in 2012, a friendly songwriter said getting signed was like getting to bat in the major leagues.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • UR_20140705_B00.jpg ‘Once Upon a Brush’ exhibit opens at Blackbridge

    For anyone who has ever wondered the tale that lies behind the strokes an artist places on canvas, a new art exhibit provides the opportunity to read stories of creativity.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • UR_20140628_B001.jpg Radio 'Hams' handle emergency communications

    Despite modern communications tools, entire regions find themselves in the dark each year.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • 06-21 Strickland class ring.jpg Lost and Found

    When Travis Strickland began searching for a new hobby, little did he know it would help him find a lost memento.

    June 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • ER_Jeanette Scott.JPG Writing a new chapter

    After a 35-year career Jeanette Scott is turning the page.

    June 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • 05-22 AA 1.jpg Allied Arts prepares for summer fine arts camps

    Milledgeville Allied Arts will once again host its fine arts camps this summer for children who want to get in touch with their creative side.

    May 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Matthew Hilliard.jpg Success times three

    When Georgia College graduate, Matthew Hilliard, first set foot on campus in 2009 as an undergraduate the last thing he expected was to make university history.

    May 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • UR_20140510_B001.jpg Bobcats Against Hunger reaching beyond goals

    Georgia College sophomores Sofia Papa and McKenzie Fisher were inspired to begin Bobcats Against Hunger after attending a Hunger Project hosted by the national non-profit Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE) in September. At that event, the two students met Kara Teresi, a GC alumna and FCE program coordinator.

    May 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • UR_20140503_B001.jpg Garden tour supports citizen advocacy

    Oconee Area Citizen Advocacy has been planting seeds of care and cultivating personal relationships with developmental disabled residents in preparation for its third annual Not Your Mama's Garden Tour.

    May 5, 2014 1 Photo

Poll
AP Video
Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali