In honor of the World Series and baseball season finishing up this past week, here is a Flashback Friday to when we first met 18-year-old Chloe! At the time she was in Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for her cancer treatment. It was a tough day, but within about 5 minutes, all of Chloe's endless excitement & knowledge of the Pirates started pouring out. We've never met someone who knows as much about the Pirates as Chloe, and we knew just the right person to match her with -- Ty Brooks.
Ty is the Director of Player Personnel for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He works with the GM Neal Huntington to assist with the day-to-day operations of the entire organization. Ty has an incredible story, and one of immense inspiration. He started his career in baseball as a 22-year-old intern with the Atlanta Braves. 6 weeks later and he was offered a full-time job with the organization. He quickly worked his way up from intern to area scout to pro scout to Director of Baseball Operations to Director of Player Personnel. Ty is hoping to become a General Manager next!
Chloe first met Ty as she was finishing up treatment and heading back to school for the first time in almost a year. They instantly clicked, talking baseball, sharing stories, and, of course, complaining about the St. Louis Cardinals (as all of us Pirates fans have learned to do!).
Ty continues to share inspirational experiences with Chloe, like tours of the front office and inviting Chloe & her best friend Abby for a special day at the ballpark. Chloe is currently a freshman at Fordham University's School of Sports Business to become a Sports Executive just like Ty!
Say hi to Blake, one of the kids who is joining us for the third annual Night of Inspiration! If you haven't gotten your tickets yet, there is still time to get them here.
Blake, age 8, is an energetic little boy, who loves to play! Baseball is something that he is very interested in so we paired him up Matt and Isaac from the University of Pittsburgh Baseball Team. After their first play date, Blake woke up the next morning and asked, "Mom, when do I get to see my best friends again?"
Blake loves to have bowling play dates with his Little Champ friends. After a game, Blake was dividing up the candy he won at the arcade. Matt described that he was impressed/glad Blake said we would all split it. Matt added, "Now of course, not only because it was candy, but because that meant we were really his good pals! "
After finishing up his last cycle of chemo, Blake is back in school and doing great! He's even playing goalie for his local hockey team! Matt & Isaac played such an important role in his cancer journey, and would visit him every time he was in the hospital, making it a place where he could be himself and continue to dream. By the way, Isaac just got drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim! Matt and Isaac still frequently Face-time Blake!
The Pirates invited the kids in CCChampions to the 2nd Annual Pediatric Cancer Awareness Night game -- and they got the full superhero treatment!
Our kids first got to shave some of the players' heads, and then they all headed onto the field to get their superhero capes! The kids & their families stuck around for the game and got to sit in the Pirates Charities World Series Suites!
A few highlights:
- Steven Brault, Jameson Taillon, and Jose Osuna helped Isabella (aka Wonder Woman) feel like a superhero at the game last night!
(Isabella wants to be a ballerina and is matched with ballerina Patsy)
- Kristie got to cut Chris Stewart's and Elias Diaz's hair! She even got a Pirates Parrot photobomb in there!
(Kristie wants to be a police detective and is matched with Detective Becky)
- Yaheim got his superhero cape on the field from Trevor Williams!
(Yaheim wants to be an athlete or a police officer and is matched with JT Thomas of the Steelers and Officer Brewer)
- Sean had his first taste in front of the camera!
(Sean wants to be a sports broadcaster and is matched with Pirates broadcaster Joe Block)
- David, Camden, & Avery cut the hair of some of the Pirates' executives! Look at those smiles!
(David wants to be a basketball player and is matched with Cam Johnson)
(Camden loves robots and is matched with Little Champ Julie Baran)
(Avery wants to be a princess and is matched with Little Champs Nicole & Izzy)
By Coy Thompson, Friendship Champion
this is a quick update on our previous post about Bryce's friendship called "Will we still be friends?" which can be found HERE!
Six year old Bryce has been part of the CCChampions family since late last summer. Because of Bryce’s love of baseball he was matched with Dan and PJ, two Pitt Baseball players. They "hit it off" immediately (ba-dum-bump), and over the course of several subsequent visits I was able to see their friendship steadily grow.
A few weeks ago I was all set to take Dan and PJ to see Bryce during a recent hospital stay when I learned that Dan had gotten a slight injury.
During practice, he was hit in the face with baseball and would not be able to come. When Bryce heard what had happened he immediately started thinking of how he could help Dan feel better. He finally settled on painting him a picture.
Dan loved the picture, and is happy to report that he's back in school and at practice again! They're already planning the next time they get to visit Bryce and have him come to one of their baseball games!
Often when I explain to people how we and our volunteers help our kids and families the word mentorship is often used.
I feel this story helps to illustrate that the best word to describe what we do is actually “friendships.” And like all healthy friendships they travel in both directions.
This small, yet amazing gesture illustrates something really important to our culture at CCChampions:
While volunteers may walk into that room ready to be a role model or mentor, they end up walking out of that room with a once-in-a-lifetime friendship.
By: Coy Thompson
As a Friendship Champion with CCChampions I am called upon to wear many hats during the course of a day. I meet and recruit new families, listen to and talk with parents, enjoy children and ultimately match them to some of our amazing volunteers.
As soon as I met Dan and PJ, two University of Pittsburgh baseball players, I knew the pair would be a perfect match for Bryce, an energetic 6 year old who loves baseball, laughing, and playing games. Bryce has two older brothers who are not always able to come with him on long hospital stays, and while I know no one can replace family I hoped they might be able to easily find a familiar dynamic.
The first time they meet one another they immediately hit it off. They played cards, board games, made Dubsmash videos, and laughed...A LOT!
Although their first meeting went well in my eyes, for some reason I was unsure if it made a big impression on Bryce. Those worries were quickly erased when I went to talk to with Bryce and his mom prior to the second visit. Bryce’s mom told me that THE Sidney Crosby had just been there, and the whole time while Bryce was wiping the floor with him in video games, he kept asking, “When are Dan and PJ getting here.”
Just last week, Dan and PJ came to visit Bryce at Children’s Hospital just before he was about to have a major procedure. As soon as Bryce saw them, he immediately stopped what he was doing and directed them to his favorite spot, the teen lounge on 9B, so they could play videogames together. Pretty early into the game Pj turned to Bryce and asked, “Will we still be friends after Dan and I beat you at the this game?” Bryce answered with “Of course,” and a smile that seemed to say (this is NOT about who wins)…and I’m still going to win.
PJ and Dan did win that time, but Bryce can’t wait for the next time they get to play so he can have a rematch!
Okay, full disclosure here. This friendship moment happened a while back now, but since the World Series just ended I've been feeling a little bit of baseball nostalgia -- so I wanted to share one of my favorite baseball friendships!
Back in March, Anya was celebrating her last day of chemo when someone special stopped by to join her! It was Manny Sanguillen, 2x World Series champ as the Pirates' catcher in the 70s.
Anya played a lot of softball growing up, but had to stop while she was going through treatment. She really missed it, and asked to be matched with a Pirates player.
For anyone who knows Anya, you know that classic Anya smile. She & Manny have a lot in common that way! :)
When Manny came to visit we all watched the baseball game together. For some reason, the two of them picked the worst seats in the room!
We asked Manny who his favorite current player is, and he said Starling Marte. Well, guess who hit a home run 3 minutes later?
You got it. It was Mr. Marte!
Manny immediately turned to Anya and said:
"Yay! I knew he'd hit that home run! I'm going to give that home run to you. He hit it just for you!"
At the end of the day, Manny signed Anya's jersey (it had Manny's number on it) and a few other things.
Anya surprised Manny by giving him a baseball with HER autograph on it!
One of the things we learned from Anya & her family is how easy it can be to get stuck in fight or flight mode and lose your favorite things upon diagnosis.
For Anya, we wanted to find a friend who could give her a way to hold on to her favorite things during the hardest parts of treatment.
Manny helped Anya keep the love of softball -- and encouraged her to keep dreaming beyond the cancer journey.
by Sidney Kushner
Can I share one of my all-time favorite days with you?
One of our 16-year-olds, Chloe, just had an awesome day with her baseball friend Ty Brooks!Chloe's going back to school for the first time in a year, and being able to meet Ty and share this day with him, her best friend, & her mom was incredible. She first got to meet her favorite player, Jordy Mercer... that smile! After that, Ty took Chloe & her best friend Abby onto the field (their first time ever!) and gave her a special gift from the Pirates Alumni Association! When she turned it around and saw her name on the back, her face absolutely lit up.
After that, Ty took Chloe & her best friend Abby onto the field (their first time ever!) and gave her a special gift from the Pirates Alumni Association! When she turned it around and saw her name on the back, her face absolutely lit up.
We then all hung out in the dugout, just talking baseball. When it comes to baseball knowledge, it's hard to find anyone out there smarter than Ty. Needless to say, Chloe, her mom, and Abby put Ty up to the test with lots & lots of questions!
Ty then took everyone up to the GMs suite and talked about how this is where a lot of the magic happens. Oh yeah, and he shared some of his favorite food too.
Finally, everyone said their goodbyes as Ty gave Chloe tickets for her, her mom, and her best friend Abby to go to the game. There was so much admiration & love. It was a special moment -- one that we don't want to ever forget!
As soon as Ty left, Chloe asked her mom to see the pictures. And when she saw the one with Jordy, she shouted:
"Oh my gosh, this needs to be my profile pic for EVERYTHING."
Thank you Ty, Chloe, Abby, Christine, and EVERYONE at the Pirates for sharing this incredible day with all of us!!!!
by Mia DiBagno
All of our Friendships are individualized and personal, so naturally, every single one looks different from the rest!
Take Joey and Chip's Friendship, for example. Joey and Chip have recently become pen pals through CCChampions!
Chip Lang, a former MLB player, first wrote to Joey and included pictures and autographs of him and his nephew, Neil Walker of the Pittsburgh Pirates! Since then, Joey and Chip have been emailing each other with
updates and stories.
Joey said that these letters make him feel "happy and excited!" Letters and correspondence can be a simple and sincere source of inspiration!
We are so happy that Joey and Chip's Friendship is taking off!
by Mia DiBagno
As Program Coordinator, I have the completely unique, marvelous job of building inspirational friendships from the ground up. Needless to say, I LOVE what I do! My job is filled with magical moments!
I'd like to share one of these moments with you.
In the very first Friendship that I started (between Kevin and David), I had jitters! It was my turn to step up to the plate, and I really was aiming for the fences (pun intended)! Looking back, I don't think I aimed far enough!
During their first meeting, at the Induction Ceremony, David signed a baseball for Kevin, as he has done many times since beginning his career in baseball. Inspired by Kevin's own story, I asked Kevin to sign a ball for David. The smile on his face was simply magical. David even said he planned on putting the ball in a box for his mantle. WOW!!!
by Mia DiBagno
Blake Buckel is a CHAMP! We really couldn't say enough on this subject! Blake is one of our young Pirates fans and a super strong (and super cool) kiddo!
This past Friday, as Pittsburgh took on the San Diego Padres, the Pirates held their annual StandUp2Cancer night. During the 7th inning stretch, fans were asked to literally stand up to cancer and share who they were standing for! Blake was in the crowd and our little champ stood tall for himself! We have some super cute pictures below!
Blake's Mom, Amanda, said, "What a great game for a great cause! Seeing all the SU2C signs being held up during the 7th inning stretch was very touching! It was definitely a great experience! Blake said, 'It was awesome!'"
Did I mention that the Pirates won?! AWESOME!
CCChampions took part in the night's festivities by tabling at the pre-game block party and passing out gold ribbons! The gold had a dual purpose - supporting our team (of course) and, more importantly, supporting Childhood Cancer Awareness!
Types of Friendships