MLB, SU2C bring pediatric cancer to spotlight
Focus on children fighting disease part of Game 3 moment
NEW YORK -- One of David Wright's biggest moments during Game 3 of the 111th World Series on Friday night happened right after the fifth inning, when he simply stood up.
The Mets' captain held up a Stand Up To Cancer placard outside the dugout rail while standing next to two of three Make-A-Wish Foundation boys who participated along with everyone inside Citi Field for the now traditional -- and emotional -- in-game moment live on FOX to help end cancer.
"The Stand Up To Cancer, I thought, was a great moment," Wright said after homering and driving in four runs in the Mets' 9-3 victory over the Royals. "They brought the kids on the field, and just the excitement in their eyes, to be on the field for a World Series game, I thought was incredible. And then to be able to honor ... friends, family, larger groups, I thought was a tremendous moment.
"It makes you realize that hey, yes, this is the World Series and there's a lot of pressure and guys are focused and locked in. But for a split second, it makes you realize how much more important things are than playing baseball. It allows you to kind of take a deep breath and say, 'You know what, this is a lot of fun, and we're blessed to be able to do this, but at the same time, there's people fighting that constant battle.' It allowed you to kind of exhale and kind of appreciate where you are at in your health."
The moment, part of a day-long dedication by year-round and longtime partners Major League Baseball and SU2C to take a stand against cancer, focused on the need to support awareness for pediatric cancers, which are diagnosed more than 163,000 times per year worldwide.
"In no other major sport is there a moment where everybody stops -- everybody -- so you have players and the general managers and the owners and the Commissioner and all of the people from Major League Baseball," said SU2C co-founder Rusty Robertson. "Everybody is standing up together. And you look over, which I did, and I saw a little girl, and she was holding up 'My Mom,' and then I looked over and one of the Mets players was holding up 'My Mom.' And I can't imagine what that's like, for the kids to see that 'My hero is the same as I am when it comes to fighting this disease.'
"That is so profound. It shows we have really brought everyone together, and that's what it is going to take, all of us together."
Colleen Tandy and her family were standing with their placards in Section 321 and watching the giant video board like everyone else in the capacity crowd. They saw Wright, and then her kids saw the children standing with him and the other players. She looked at her own three boys -- Connor, Robbie and Sean -- and she thought about those boys on the field, ages 10 to 12, each of whom just wanted so badly to be here.
Sean had been waving a Thor hammer the entire game to that point, in support of Mets starter Noah Syndergaard. Now he was waving an SU2C placard, like everyone else. Also in their group was the children's father, Rob Tandy, and their grandfather, Rich. It was the first World Series for all of them, and the moment added meaning and perspective.
"It was sad, especially seeing the little kids on the field," Colleen said. "They were very emotional."
MLB and SU2C also debuted the PSA campaign "Potential," with participation by cancer survivor Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs, Bryce Harper of the Nationals, Felix Hernandez of the Mariners, Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, David Price of the Blue Jays and Mike Trout of the Angels.
The PSAs began airing at Citi Field on the main video board as well as during the FOX telecast. These moving spots offer an intimate look into the lives of MLB stars when they were young and developing their passion for baseball.
In addition to featuring home videos and photographs of these stars, the PSA highlights children who have survived, or are currently in the fight against, cancer. Included are 7-year-old Pearl Bucknam, a Wilms' tumor survivor; 9-year-old Dylan Roslauski, whose acute lymphoblastic leukemia is now in remission; and 9-year-old Aidan Smithburger, who is fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
In 2013, SU2C and the St. Baldrick's Foundation, a volunteer-powered charity dedicated to funding research into childhood cancer, collaborated to fund a Pediatric Cancer Dream Team, which is investigating new therapies for high-risk, difficult-to-treat childhood cancers. Through its Innovative Research Grants program, SU2C has also supported nine early-career scientists and physicians whose work is focused on or could have a significant impact on pediatric cancer.
"It is so special to be involved in such an inspiring campaign with Stand Up To Cancer and MLB," Rizzo said. "As a cancer survivor, I know first-hand what it takes to fight this disease -- courage, strength and the support of people all around you cheering you on. I'm proud to play for an organization that understands how powerful our voices are in the fight against cancer."
Not only is he involved with SU2C, Rizzo is the founder of the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization launched in 2012 and run by his family, close friends and management team. Together they work to provide support for children and their families battling cancer while raising money for cancer research.
"Major League Baseball's foremost goals revolve around children, and we are grateful that many kids aspire to call themselves Major Leaguers one day," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "In that spirit, the new public service announcement by our friends at Stand Up To Cancer is particularly meaningful. Throughout the 2015 World Series, it will be an honor for our game to shine a light on boys and girls who are truly courageous and inspirational. Major League Baseball is proud to support Stand Up To Cancer's mission to fund groundbreaking cancer research -- and to make everyone who is diagnosed with cancer a survivor."
Robertson and the other SU2C leaders observed the moment in the Commissioner's suite. Though there has been a change in leadership at MLB since the last World Series in-game moment, the dedicated resolve remains.
"It was the beginning of a new era, because Commissioner Manfred and his wife were there, and I hugged them and I thanked them," Robertson said. "We are so grateful that we are now starting a new era of Stand Up To Cancer, but we are just continuing, because baseball is so important to us. We are here not only because of baseball, but tonight it was more emotional than usual."
Robertson said that the Pediatric Dream Team at SU2C has "made many great strides, and now we are adding immunology. Stand Up To Cancer is about to announce some things that everyone is going to be so proud of."
The Commissioner took part in an event earlier in the day at Kravis Children's Hospital at Mount Sinai in Manhattan, part of a contingent that included the Mets, MLB, SU2C, the entire World Series umpiring crew, Hall of Famer Tom Glavine, McCutchen, Mets legend Jesse Orosco, Vera Clemente and area doctors. And in an on-field ceremony before Game 3, MasterCard presented SU2C with a $4.25 million donation, raised through its "Priceless Causes" campaign.
Since SU2C's launch in 2008, MLB has provided year-round promotional support, including featured spotlights during the World Series, the All-Star Game, and many other individual games and activities throughout the year. MLB and its 30 clubs are the founding donors of SU2C, committing nearly $40 million to date to SU2C's innovative cancer research; fans can join in by donating at SU2C.org.