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."
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.
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."
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."
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.
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.
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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