Every year, Major League Baseball comes together to recognize Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September. On the field, the team wears gold ribbons and wristbands to show its support for the cause. Off the pitch, the club focuses on raising awareness, celebrating with survivors and connecting with children who need it most.
In partnership with Starlight, a foundation dedicated to bringing joy and happiness to critically ill children, the Orioles donated two Nintendo Switch handhelds, fully equipped with RBI 21, to children at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. The Orioles have also donated promotional items to bring Orioles magic to the hospital at a time when in-person visits with patients are limited.
On September 7, the Orioles invited Dena Rovito, a special guest from Alex’s Lemonade Stand, to throw the ceremonial first pitch. In 2004, Dena was diagnosed with neuroblastoma and had surgery to remove the tumor. The surgeons at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia removed 66 percent of the tumor.
After about a year, the tumor stopped shrinking and kept its size for subsequent CT scans. Now, years later, Dena is a healthy, active 17-year-old who enjoys art, music, dance and gymnastics.
The only lasting effects of her tumor and surgery are weakness in her right hand from nerve damage/residual tumor and a permanent condition of Horner’s Syndrome. Horner syndrome is mainly cosmetic in nature and in fact she thinks some of its effects are quite cool (she has two slightly different colored eyes!).
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is changing the lives of children with cancer by funding impactful research, raising awareness, supporting families and empowering everyone to help cure childhood cancer. Throughout the 2021 season, the Orioles will receive families from this organization in memory of “Shakey” – an Orioles salesman who passed away earlier this year.
On September 25, the Orioles welcome Luke Post to throw the ceremonial first pitch. On May 6, 2019, Luke was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, a rare form of non-Hodgkin cancer. Since then, Luke has undergone intensive chemotherapy treatment at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital. Luke’s last day of chemotherapy was August 28 and he is looking forward to being a cancer-free survivor. During his treatments, Luke was inspired to raise money for the UVA hospital. He created No One Fights Alone T-shirts and managed to raise over $6,000. Born in Maryland, Luke has been a huge fan of Orioles all his life. His favorite player is Trey Mancini.
Orioles Players Support Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
On the pitch, Orioles players are focused on giving their best every day. Off the field, many players have a passion for giving back to the community and raising awareness for personal causes. In September, Orioles pitcher Tyler Wells launched a fundraiser for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. Tyler said: “Being part of this fundraiser means the world to me. I’ve worked with them in the past and they’ve always gone above and beyond for the kids and allowed me to take part in some incredible moments.
“For example, there was one day in 2018, we got to visit a children’s cancer center and meet some of the great fighters who stayed there. It was such a humbling experience for me to see how strong and resilient these children were. Within the month of visiting those kids, we had to take them to a game. One of the best experiences of my life was when the team was able to tell this little boy he was cancer free.
“These kids didn’t ask for this, and with the experience I’ve had with cancer in my family, I always want to help these kids and give them the strength and resources they need to beat cancer. So with this upcoming campaign in September, I’m challenging anyone who wants to help these children, use the link to my pledge page and let’s help these fighters and their families beat these terrible diseases. Let’s give them a better life. Thanks for all the support and go O’s.”
Orioles Pitcher Matt Harvey also supports the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. For every strikeout that Matt records during the month of September, a donation will be made to this organization. Matt is incredibly close to his fundraising goal of $5,000.
Throughout the year, the Orioles are committed to individuals and organizations focused on strengthening our community and empowering our youth. For more information, visit Orioles.com/CommunityResources.