When the World Series kicked off in Boston on October 23, Jason Motte of the St. Louis Cardinals was in the dugout supporting his team.
If you look closely on his arm you will notice a “Team Brandt” bracelet which serves as a daily reminder of Brandt, a young boy, who has had a profound impact on Jason’s life.
In one point of our lives we have all been affected by cancer. Whether it is a relative or a family friend, cancer has touched each one of us.
In 2011, a day after the Cardinals won the World Series, Brandt Ballenger was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor, a form of pediatric kidney cancer. Since his diagnosis, he has undergone several surgical procedures, over a year of chemotherapy, six months of anticoagulant therapy for a blood clot, two rounds of radiation treatment and numerous blood and platelet transfusions in addition to his regular doctor appointments.
When Brandt’s condition worsened, the Make-A-Wish foundation was forced to move up a preplanned meeting with his favorite team, the Cardinals. And it was during this visit that Brandt was able to connect with Jason and from that moment on things changed.
“He made a huge impact on my life. Just watching him go through what he went through really made me see that this whole baseball thing is important, but man there are some way bigger things in life than winning or losing a baseball game.”
After forming a relationship with Brandt, Jason decided to embark on the challenge of creating a day to raise awareness for pediatric cancer.
“I got a whole bunch of no’s and it would have been easy to just give up, but watching the persistence of this little boy (Brandt) and the way he was fighting this disease made me want to push harder,” said Jason.
On September 23, 2013, Jason’s dream came true as the St. Louis Cardinals hosted its first “Strike Out for Childhood Cancer.” The Cardinals sold discounted $10 pavilion tickets, $3 of which went to the Jason Motte Foundation and then directly to organizations that support pediatric cancer research.
“We do it to show these kids and their families that they aren’t alone. They aren’t fighting this battle alone,” said Jason.
Sadly, Brandt was unable to witness this moment as he passed away two months earlier.
Like all Major Leaguers, Jason is heavily involved with the Players Trust’s Action Team national volunteer youth program.
Jason was featured on the Action Team’s October conference call, which also shined a spotlight on West Ranch High School in California, who discussed their recent community service efforts, including working at a food pantry, participating in a toy drive with the U.S. Postal Service and working with the Special Olympics.
After sharing his touching story of Brandt and the inspiration the boy provided him, Jason commended Action Team members for their efforts thus far.
“Just keep doing what you’re doing. I know I said it before, but what you guys are doing is really making an impact on peoples’ lives. You guys are doing really great things and you’ve started at a young age and that’s awesome to see.”
As the Cardinals embark on another exciting postseason of October baseball “with no script,” Jason keeps Brandt is his thoughts.
“I don’t do what I do for someone to give me a pat on the back,” said Jason. At the end of the day, “Baseball is what I do, it’s not who I am.”