Two boys on the Catholic Youth Organization's St. Anastasia JV baseball team will be honored on May 22 by their own teammates and the rest of the community in celebration of their survival over cancer.
Cameron Mathes, 12, a sixth-grade student at Paxon Hollow Middle School, who plays shortstop and pitcher for the team was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic
leukemia on April 2, 2002. He was only 3.
Mark Farrell, 11, a fifth-grade student at St. Anastasia School, who also plays pitcher, first base and outfield for the team was also diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on Dec. 29, 2007. He was just 7.
Since then both players have gone through endless amounts of chemotherapy, according to Cameron's mother Jennifer Mathes, and Cameron is in complete remission and while Mark will soon be there as well. He finished his chemo treatment only a month ago and was recently named Boy of the Year by the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
According to Mathes, when Coach Tom Young heard about the boys' stories, he was "nearly in tears."
"The team always does a community service project," said Mathes. "The coach didn't realize Cameron was also a cancer survivor and I think they were inspired to do something on behalf of the boys. How many teams out there have two leukemia survivors?"
The team will host an Alex’s Lemonade Stand on Sunday, May 22, from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. at St. Anastasia Church, another stand at the lacrosse games at the Gauntlett Community Center from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and another at the Catholic Youth Organization's Region 25 All Star Game at Marple Township Little League’s Thomas Field from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Cameron was chosen to play in one of the All Star games on Sunday.
Both Cameron and Mark have also accomplished another feat but this time with the help of their teammates–the team is currently undefeated and will compete in the playoffs next week.
"I think most of the teammates are just in awe like, 'Wow, you had cancer?' Both Mark and Cameron were both on their deathbeds and to be undefeated with the team, I think the teammates are impressed that they've gone through so much but they can compete with the kids in their age group," shared Mathes.
Mathes believes the community has already gotten together to support not only Cameron and Mark but also other children surviving cancer. According to Mathes, the team has already raised close to $700 in which St. Anastasia's Student Council donated $500 from a previous fundraiser.
"Everyone has just been so supportive," said Mathes, who also hopes the community will see the young boys serving "to do good things for good causes."
She also hopes that her own son will be able to understand his life's testimony surviving cancer, and to share and encourage others going through what he had survived.
"Life isn't about me, me, me and sports," said Mathes. "It's about working with other people to give back. I hope he will understand that and how he can benefit other kids who have cancer."