Friday, May 11, 2007

My heroes-Shane and Mac:

I will admit, that I have had my share of people I look up to in this crazy life of mine. When I was a kid it was Kirby Puckett, Cal Ripken, and Rod Carew. Currently, I have two idols and they are both kids.

Many of you know the story of Mackenzie Pratt, the Lamoille High School three sport star who is recovering from cancer. Mac has had to endure countless chemotherapy treatments for the disease which came back late last year. It isn't just the fact that Pratt is beating this
horrible disease, it is the way she is doing it. I talked with Pratt before doing the Lamoille/U-32 basketball game, and she has an attitude that is simply contagious. She smiles, she laughs, she jokes, and is bound and determined to beat this disease. There are so many superlatives that have been used to describe her. Mainly words like "courageous", "determined" and "fearless" come to mind from all whom I have talked to about Mac. She will talk about her fight, and when talking to her, you can see the pure determination in her eyes when it comes to beating cancer.

One of the best moments of my broadcasting career came in the final moments of the Lamoille/Mount Abe Division II title game at the Aud in Barre. Mac took part in warmups, and was on the bench for the final. With the game in hand, coach Tim Messier inserted Mac into the game for the final minute. When she took off her warmups and went to the scorers table, the Aud went nuts. When she entered the game, not only did the Lamoille fans give her a standing ovation, but Mount Abe's fans and players did as well. After the game WDEV's Rich Haskell who was broadcasting the game said he had never cheered on the air before; when Mac got into the game, he came close. I on the other hand am not as professional in that respect and caught myself wanting her to score. When she missed, I was bummed. When she got her hands on the championship trophy, I literally had tears in my eyes.

Shane Bergeron is a kid whom I have the pleasure of coaching in the Center City Little League. Shane is in remission from Hodgkins Disease, but is playing first base and pitching for my beloved Red Sox. At a benefit for Shane, he was walking around collecting donations, but there was a catch to it of course. If you wanted to rub Shane's bald head, you had to donate. Looking at him, you could tell he was sick, but he sure wasn't acting it. With protective big sister Molly at his side, Shane talked to everyone, but didn't seem to understand why all of the attention was being given to him. Let me tell you why. Shane is one of those kids who when my wife and I have kids, I want them to be like. He is quiet, articulate, perfectly mannered, and SMART. Not only does he understand the game of baseball, but he understands the game of life more than us adults ever will. This of course is with the exception of his parents.

Jeff is the head coach of the Center City Red Sox and along with his wife have had to endure the worst nightmare of any parent. I was talking to Jeff last night during our 5-5 tie with Colchester, and he said that when Shane was diagnosed, it just didn't seem real to him
that his son had cancer. He said Shane had just got done with all-stars and the family was gearing up for a fun summer; then reality hit and it hit hard. Instead of playing all summer, research had to be done on the disease; planning had to be done for treatments, and the
reality of the situation had to sink in. Shane is fighting this disease and beating it because of his parents. I don't know Jeff's wife well, but I have gotten to know Jeff well in the last year or so.

Jeff will not allow Shane to not beat cancer. Jeff rides Shane harder than any of the kids on the team, but only because he wants Shane to be a normal kid. Guess what Jeff, I hate to break it to you, but your son is far from normal; he is exceptional. His attitude is contagious, and in some of the things I have had to overcome in life, I thought I had guts. What Shane and your family have had to go through, and the way you have done it makes things I have dealt with look like a hang nail.

In between Shane and Mac, I hope I can handle adversity like this close to the way they have. Yes, I will admit, there are kids who I look up to.

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