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Swinging for the fences: Sports writer Emily Waldon battles breast cancer

The community has rallied around Emily since she announced her diagnosis in January.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A new baseball season also mean new players—and no one is better at getting to know them than Grand Rapids Minor League sports writer Emily Waldon.

"And I think that her her biggest attribute there is the fact that there is a voice for the players," West Michigan Whitecaps VP and General Manager Jim Jarecki said. He is just one of Emily's many fans. 

"She's still, you know, in my eyes, kind of a pioneer trailblazer in the baseball side of things."

Credit: Emily Waldon

Which is why it was tough to hear the news that Emily had breast cancer.

In January of this year, Emily took to Twitter to announce she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. She would need six rounds of chemotherapy and surgery.

Credit: Emily Waldon

Jarecki was ready to rally. 

"My first reaction, though, was you're gonna beat this."

And that was the response from hundreds—or rather thousands—of fans and baseball players from around the country whom Emily had touched through her coverage of the minor leagues. 

"The way people rallied was just absolutely mind blowing for me."

Credit: Emily Waldon

The encouragement came from everywhere. From Twitter to beers from Bell's Brewery and Founders Brewery.  

Credit: Emily Waldon Twitter

She even got her own rallying t-shirt from Sport Analyst Rob "PitchingNinja" Friedman

"And this was one of the better things that I thought I could do because you talked about somebody has done so much for so many."

Credit: Emily Waldon Twitter

The t-shirt sales were record-breaking, but that didn't surprise Rob. 

"I had a feeling it would, because I think she touched so many people's lives by doing good and never asking for anything that it was, I think people wanting to return the favor and help out a good cause," he said.

Emily has a passion not just for baseball but for writing about the players who sacrifice so much for their dream to one day play in the big leagues. 

"Who are the ones that don't have that recognition right away, they're not top draft picks, or, you know, didn't go to the top schools. But they did something to get them to where they are. And I think sharing that helps the fans really become more personally connected to these players. So once they do reach the majors, they can say, you know what, I knew him way back when."

So now it might be a little easier to understand why so many have rallied around "one of their own".

"I've never missed an opener since I started doing this," Emily said.

And she doesn't plan to. Despite her chemotherapy treatments, Emily is still writing. She just got published in the most recent Baseball America magazine where she wrote about her top about her draft pics.

Credit: Emily Waldon Twitter

 And she's taken on another role: Breast Cancer Counselor. 

"I've tried to sort of leverage with my own journey, just encouraging other people reach out to me, if you have questions, if you're scared, I'm available," she said.

Because Emily Waldon is the person you can count on to make a difference in the lives of those around her.

Emily was recognized as part of the Detroit Tigers Pink Out at The Park game on Friday, May 13 and also as part of the West Michigan Whitecaps Women In Sports during their game on Sunday, May 15. 

You can follow Emily Waldon on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can join the rally around Emily buy purchasing one of her t-shirts. All proceeds go to help cover her medical expenses.

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