Colorado Rockies Take Time Sunday to Help Kids Battling Cancer
By Kevin Henry
Aaron AJ Kramer is just like any other 12-year-old kid when he gets around players from the Colorado Rockies, especially Nolan Arenado. His eyes light up and a smile comes across his face. It makes him forget for just a little while about the battle he’s been battling with leukemia since September.
Kramer was one of 23 teenage cancer patients and 15 caregivers from Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders paying a visit to the Rockies spring training center at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Sunday morning. This year’s trip was underwritten by the Jason Motte Foundation.
“It’s been really awesome,” Kramer said. “This is my first time at spring training. The players were really nice and liked to meet us. Meeting Nolan Arenado was really awesome because he’s my favorite. I am a third baseman.
“I can forget about all of the stuff I’ve been doing and have some fun. You get some time to spend without your parents. It’s fun.”
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It’s fun for Motte as well, the Rockies reliever who has seen his foundation grow and make impacts in cities around the nation since it began in 2011.
“This is awesome,” Motte said. “I got a chance to hang out with some of the kids when they got in Friday. My wife and I went to Dave & Buster’s with them and played some games. You get to see these teenagers out there having fun and playing and talking trash. The whole point of this trip is a little getaway for them. They can forget about what’s going on and them battling and going through treatment. It’s a way for them to take their mind off things and give their families back home a chance to take a little breath.
“My wife does an amazing job with our foundation. It’s something we’re passionate about. We can go out and help others and put smiles on faces who are going through a tough time. It’s really why we started our foundation in 2011.”
“Children’s Colorado is one of the only pediatric hospitals in the country that can offer this kind of experience to our patients – and it’s all thanks to our philanthropic partners at the Colorado Rockies, including the Motte family and their foundation, and our dedicated caregivers,” Dr. Bob Casey, a pediatric psychologist who specializes in helping families navigate the emotional challenges of childhood cancer. Casey organizes the trip each year, said in a news release.
Motte’s wife’s grandfather was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in 2011 and people were helping the Mottes through the ordeal. It was the beginning of the Jason Motte Foundation. Now it’s a chance for the Rockies relief pitcher and his family to give back.
“There were people who were helping us through that time with support,” Motte said. “We wanted to know what we could do to help those who are helping us and help those who are going through this and let them know that they’re not alone. People do care. For us to do stuff like this is awesome. The smiles on the kids’ faces are priceless.”
Judging by Sunday morning’s events, the entire Rockies organization feels the same way. The entire spring training roster and coaching staff met the kids and their caregivers on the Rockies practice field. There were plenty of autographs, smiles and high-fives to go around.
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“It’s easy to get teammates to join in,” Motte said. “These kids are teenagers and look up to some of the guys in here. To get guys and take some time and say hi to some of the kids, it’s not that tough.”