GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Throughout Spring Training, several Reds players have been wearing red T-shirts with a backwards "K" above the word "cancer," meaning to strike out cancer. It was utility player Skip Schumaker who brought a bunch of the shirts into the clubhouse and told his teammates to help themselves. They were created by the initiative of Schumaker's former Cardinals teammate, closer Jason Motte.
The website 108stitches.com went live on March 17, with 108 Stitches showcasing the strikeout cancer tees in each team's colors. Each is promoted by a different player who agreed to join Motte in a partnership that will benefit multiple charities. Each participating player has chosen a charity that will benefits from the T-shirt sales and for each shirt sold, $5 will go to the Jason Motte Foundation and $5 to a charity of that player's choice. A full list of recipient charities will be listed on the 108 Stitches website soon, along with a photo of each player rep in his team-colored shirt.
"At the end of the day, it's about reaching people," Motte said. "Baseball is great and everything, but there are other really important things going on out there that affect a lot of people. Wearing these T-shirts shows people that they're not alone. They're not sitting there doing chemo by themselves where no one cares. People do care, whether it's friends, family or baseball players. There are people who this has touched and this has affected. This is something we're trying to do to get the word out there and try to raise money to help."
Schumaker is involved in a charity called NEGU -- Never Ever Give Up -- that was created by 12-year-old cancer victim Jessie Rees.
"She was diagnosed with cancer and died two years ago, and she was from my hometown. We got involved and kind of wanted to make it league wide," Schumaker said. "It seems like everybody has been affected by cancer in some fashion or another. People aren't real open about it, but when you start talking about it, the more people talk about it and their stories. We've been fortunate, my family and I, to have two healthy kids. When you see kids affected by it, it just rips at you."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.