DETROIT - Pancreatic Cancer is personal. My family and I buried my father just over a year ago after this ugly disease blindsided us all and took him within six weeks of his diagnosis. So when I hear a story like Kelly Bell's I find some solace and inspiration and hope you do too.
Kelly Bell is just 44 years old. He lives in Northville and was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in May of last year. That he survived this long is somewhat a miracle. But it has laid waste to what he knew as a life. He lost his job as a cell phone company engineer, which means he's lost his health insurance. His wife stayed home all too often to take care of him which tried her employer's patience to the limit. So, they now are facing this horrifying disease with no money, a foreclosed home and the memory of a daughter who died from Potter's Syndrome a couple of years ago. They know pain and suffering and the terror of looking death in the dark and ugly eye at too early an age. Kelly didn't talk about his problems very much until recently. He confided to a friend on Facebook his cancer. That led to long, heartfelt discussions of favorite times and better days. Baseball came up as the sweet season for Kelly.
Scott Peterson was one of the guys who played little league baseball with Kelly. He was greatly moved by Kelly's predicament. They talked long and often about the glory days of 25 years ago when the biggest worry was where you would bat in the lineup that day in little league. Scott immediately went to work trying to relive some of that glory. He organized a then vs. now baseball game that would raise money to help Kelly and his wife. He told me today "we're hoping to cover his medication for several months. We've got people ready to help him move and things like that." The goal is to raise $5000. Now, many of the Northville team members have moved on from town, living in places like Thailand. Yet they have responded with emails and donations. The players who are still here in the state are ready to come and play. Kelly told me today "It's really overwhelming to all of a sudden, with the basic sports philosophy is when a guy is down, pick him right back up and within a day, these guys were there after me… blue is a lot bluer, and white is a lot whiter, the colors are brighter."
So they'll play baseball tomorrow, they'll raise money for his earthly needs. But clearly it's the renewed spirit of all of these people, touched by a horrible killer, that is the thing to marvel at and celebrate tonight, and tomorrow around 1pm when they play their game. Congratulations to everyone involved. This is a great and wonderful thing you are doing!
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