Wednesday, October 26, 2011

{Josh Hamilton}: A Hero On And Off The Field

Most of you reading this already know and love {for one reason or another} Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers Baseball Organization.

Is it his dominance on the baseball field that draws you to him? Or perhaps his faith in God? Or maybe it is his "real-ness" when it comes to his daily struggles?

I would have to agree. All of the above.

And yet there is another reason why I have much respect for this man. And that reason's name is Payton.

A few years ago, Big A and I took a trip to Spring Training out in Surprise, Arizona to scout out the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals with some friends of ours. We had a blast. To say the least.

On our first day there, we went to the Rangers batting practice to try to get some autographs. While I was standing in line to get Josh's autograph on my ball, I noticed a little boy and girl who walked right past the long line of hopefuls, straight to Josh.

I could tell Josh knew them by name and I saw Josh sign this boy's bat and then put a special bracelet around his wrist. I also heard the little girl tell Josh that she tied her own shoes that day. It was so cute!

I did not think much more about it. I proceeded to get Josh's autograph myself and then we went about the rest of our day, getting autographs and watching baseball.

The next day {while still in Surprise} I noticed that pictures of this same little boy and girl at Spring Training with Josh Hamilton were popping up on my friend's Facebook page. Turns out my friend was in fact there in Surprise and that the little boy and girl {who passed up the line} were his kids.

Once we figured this out, we immediately made plans to meet up at the Ranger game the next day, where I had the pleasure of meeting Payton.

Payton is 8 years old and he lives with a devastating disease called cystic fibrosis {CF}.

Here is a little information {from my friend, Payton's dad} about his condition...

Each day we help Payton with breathing treatments, supplemental feedings, vest therapy and other medications; all of these help him live a stronger and healthier life. Payton was admitted to the hospital twice in 2010, once in August and the other in December (staying during Christmas). Both of these hospital stays were for 15 days where he received IV antibiotics, 5 daily breathing treatments, CPT with an electronic vest, multiple blood draws, and nightly feedings through his G-Button. Payton always does an outstanding job and is one of the favorite patients at Cook Children’s. At home each day Payton has to take 25 or more pills, 4 breathing treatments and is feed throughout the night in his G-Button. All of these medications help to assist his digestion, increase his lung function, and treat bacteria growing in his lungs. Although his health is still fragile and a daily struggle, we are grateful for all the medical advances that are available to help him. Payton does remarkably well for an 8 year old, but this is still plenty to take in for someone his age and even more heartbreaking to watch. There are still many sleepless nights and tough days. Recently a new drug was approved that Payton is now receiving. We have seen a huge difference in his response to this medication, and hope that it continues. We all want to see our children grow up, and thankfully that is what the CF Foundation is allowing Payton to do with their research.

I asked my friend to tell me the story behind the bracelet that Josh gave Payton.

It turns out that a man from Cincinatti, who has been a Josh fan since he was with the Reds, came to Spring Training that year and he brought with him a "Believe Band" that Josh and his wife Katie had given out at a prayer service after a game.

He told Josh that he had no idea why he brought the bracelet but when he saw and talked to Payton, he knew. So he proceeded to give the bracelet to Josh who in turn gave it to Payton, telling him the story. And that was the encounter I witnessed at Spring Training, March 2010. And all along it was the son of my friend from high school, whose sister I played volleyball with. Unbelievable.

Since that time I have learned more about Josh and Payton's special relationship.

Obviously, Payton and his family are big-time Ranger fans, must be good people, right? They have been going to Spring Training every year since 2004 and it was in March 2008 that Josh began to take an interest in Payton.

Since that time they have had MANY encounters {beyond the normal pleasantries that occur anytime they see one another}, including...

April 2008: Josh put Payton on the field with him at Fenway Park
August 2008: Josh caught Payton's ceremonial first pitch at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
March 2009: Batting practice at Spring Training
March 2009: Josh's dream bat, wrist bands, batting gloves at Spring Training
July 2010: Took pictures on the field and in the dugout in Anaheim

Even though Payton fights this disease daily, most of the time you wouldn’t even know he had CF. He is very active all day long and loves playing sports. Payton is playing Coach Pitch Select baseball for the Texas Crush and is having a great time! He really loves baseball and we give him every opportunity to play and watch it that we can. He is a huge Texas Rangers fan, and who could have asked for a better year of baseball than in 2010!!! Payton and I had the opportunity to see all of last season’s playoff games and share the experience together. Payton’s favorite baseball player is Josh Hamilton and there is nothing better than seeing his face light up when Josh talks to him. We travel to Arizona each year for Spring Training and try to make some out of town games too. This year Josh took Payton through the Rangers Clubhouse in Surprise, AZ. We are truly blessed and thankful that Josh has been so nice to our family. Baseball is truly Payton’s release from his day to day fight against CF!

And this, my friends, is just another one of the many many reasons why we love Josh Hamilton, why people proudly display the #32 and why I am honored to be in partnership with {Josh's company} Scripture Art Designs.

Which by the way, have you seen their newest design?!

Love it!

GO PAYTON!! You are an inspiration to us all!


Sidenote: We are giving away a Josh Hamilton autographed baseball on our Facebook page. Go here to enter for a chance to win!

Pin It!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...