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Rockies provide joy for young cancer patients

Club hosts Children's Hospital Colorado for game, workout, Q&A session
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The laughter and fun Saturday and Sunday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick echoed all the way across the country.

The Rockies hosted 27 patients from Children's Hospital Colorado's Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Saturday's home game against the Brewers, and for a meet-and-greet on Sunday morning before the team's stretch period and early workout before their game against the Angels.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The laughter and fun Saturday and Sunday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick echoed all the way across the country.

The Rockies hosted 27 patients from Children's Hospital Colorado's Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Saturday's home game against the Brewers, and for a meet-and-greet on Sunday morning before the team's stretch period and early workout before their game against the Angels.

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And in Cardinals camp in Jupiter, Fla., relief pitcher Jason Motte could barely contain his emotion when the stories came his way. He loved that the children even conducted video interviews with the Rockies' own cancer survivor, Chad Bettis.

"What me and my wife do from a foundation standpoint, that's one thing, but to see Chad, what he's been through and where he is …" Motte said. "He's had it. He's fought it. He's beat it. He's now back pitching at the highest level. He gives hopes to these kids that can't even be described."

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Motte was with the Rockies in Spring Training last year, and the trip was arranged through his Jason Motte Foundation. Motte and his wife, Caitlin Motte, have raised awareness and money and assisted with all cancer-related causes since 2010. Motte was designated for assignment by the Rockies at the end of last spring, but he still kept the Children's Hospital Colorado patients in mind.

"We did the check presentation for this year's Spring Training trip," Motte said. "The hospital, they had no idea we were doing it."

In fact, Motte was paying forward. The Rockies had traded shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays in 2015, but Tulowitzki made sure the children could make the trip in 2016. So no longer being with the Rockies was no obstacle for Motte.

When Bettis was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2016 and learned he had to undergo chemotherapy treatments before last spring, Motte was an advisor, confidante and -- above all -- friend. Motte was with the Braves, who happened to be the Rockies' opponent when Bettis made his Aug. 14 return, throwing seven scoreless innings. During the trip, Bettis and Motte made a trip to the hospital.

Tweet from @Rockies: The #ChildrensColoradoRox crew is in the house!They hung out with @cbettis35 and get to watch the game on the Rockies��� balcony. pic.twitter.com/yPoe78168v

Jason and Caitlin Motte formed their foundation when Caitlin's grandfather, Lynn Doyle, was a cancer patient at the West Clinic in Memphis, Tenn. And during his career, Motte has seen cancer up close several times.

"I was fortunate enough to play in Chicago with two guys, Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo, who had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and beat it," Motte said. "You have guys like Jameson Taillon with the Pirates and Daniel Norris with the Tigers. To be able to talk to those guys inspired me to make more of a difference. It's not just those guys. Those kids are an inspiration to me.

"It's about fighting. It's about staying positive with anything, especially something like that. Once negativity creeps in, you're beaten."

Tweet from @Rockies: Played catch, signed autographs, took photos and, most importantly, made new friends.What a special morning with the #ChildrensColoradoRox crew! pic.twitter.com/jz3H58sUec

Rockies manager Bud Black has kept his hand in such causes, as well. He managed the Padres, whose field staff, players and front office have a long-standing involvement with Rady Children's Hospital San Diego.

"To see these kids, the cancer patients, come down here this weekend and interact with the players is such a cool thing for everybody," Black said. "It's a treat for the players. It's wonderful for the kids to meet Nolan [Arenado], meet DJ [LeMahieu], meet Charlie [Blackmon], meet Wade Davis. It's very uplifting, and for the nurses and doctors who are down here and see these kids smile, have fun and get out of the hospital for a couple days to come down here to Arizona to this environment."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies