All-Star dreams granted for Make-A-Wish

Six kids receiving VIP treatment for Midsummer Classic

July 9th, 2017

MIAMI -- Benjamin Koch may have been diagnosed with life-threatening adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) in 2010, but that hasn't stopped him from doing what he loves: collecting autographs, and lots of them.
So on Saturday when Koch was welcomed as one of six children to have their All-Star Game dreams come true thanks to MLB, the Marlins and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he wasted little time meeting with members of this year's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, like Corey Ray, Brian Anderson and Bo Bichette.
Koch even received his own All-Star Game jersey with his last name on it.
:: 2017 Futures Game coverage ::
"I never could've dreamt that," Koch said. "This is really a wish and a dream come true."
Koch and the other five kids also met former Marlins third baseman and 13-year MLB veteran Mike Lowell, who was joined by Futures Game players Jack Flaherty and Zack Collins. Also in attendance was Marlins president David Samson and Vera Clemente, MLB goodwill ambassador and wife of the late Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente.
Lowell can somewhat relate to the cause. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1999 while a prospect in the Marlins' Minor League system.
"I think it gives the casual fan that thinks everything is all glitz and glitter the perspective that even with something like this, there are kids going through some tough times," he said. "And if going to the All-Star Game and enjoying all the festivities in a special way can kind of brighten the spirits of some kids going through some trials, I think it's a great thing."
Collins, a product of nearby University of Miami, said he was happy to welcome kids like Koch, who flew in from Scarsdale, N.Y.
"It's amazing. I've done a couple of Make-A-Wish things and I think they've always done a fantastic job of getting these kids out here and making their dreams come true," the White Sox prospect said. "I'm just glad to be a part of it. Just meeting these young kids and seeing how much courage they have, it's great."
Of course, the reception was merely the tip of the iceberg for what's to come.
:: Complete All-Star Game coverage ::
Each of the Make-A-Wish honorees will participate in all of the All-Star Week's activities. That includes meeting players at the Futures Game, the T-Mobile Home Run Derby and Tuesday's MLB-All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. They'll also meet MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and celebrities from the All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game.
The event Koch is looking forward to most? The Home Run Derby, which will feature guys like and .
"That's gonna be a Home Run Derby for the ages," Koch said. "All these big guys, guys that I literally look up to."
That look on the kids' faces is what makes putting this all together worth it, said MLB manager of community affairs Kevin Moss.
"It never gets old," Moss said. "Each year you get a new group of kids that bring different energy. It's fun. You get to see their faces light up. That's what it's all about."
After the reception, Koch was back on his grind. He whipped out a brand new ball for White Sox prospect to sign in the hotel lobby of the InterContinental Miami, Koch's third autograph of the day.
His goal this weekend? No numbers. He only hopes to add to the hundreds of autographs in his collection.
"I don't wanna jinx anything."