By Jordan Leandre
I don’t remember a lot about my treatment process – after all, I was only about 2 1/2. Here is some stuff that I do remember.
I remember being very sick and in and out of the hospital for a span of about 11 months. I remember how sad my parents were and not really understanding why they were upset. I remember my roommate in the hospital, Andrew, who was about 13 or 14 at the time. I called him my hospital brother; coincidentally, my actual brother is also named Andrew. We used to hang out and play video games and basketball in the hallway with another guy, until we were told that we couldn’t do it anymore.
I used to hate getting my blood drawn, which I realize now is what they had to do to make sure that my blood was healthy and there wasn’t anything odd in there. I used to cry my eyes out when it came time to do the blood work. I don’t care really about it as much now that I am older, it just hurt so bad for the longest time.
I always liked to sing when I was in the hospital, songs like “American Soldier” and “God Bless the USA.” I would sing them all the time. The Red Sox were looking for someone to say “Play ball!” before a game at Fenway Park, and Lisa Scherber, director of patient and family programs, said that she could do one better — and it happened to be me singing at Fenway. That led to me singing there numerous times, starting in 2004 as part of the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. One time that is memorable to me is the day when David Ortiz pushed me, in my wheelchair, out onto the field on Opening Day in 2006. Papi is my favorite player; next is Jon Lester, who is really my pitching inspiration. He showed me that there really isn’t anything that can keep you away from what you love and he made a historic return from cancer and I personally am proud of him.
The most memorable time I sang at Fenway was during the 2007 radio-telethon. That’s the day I ran the bases. I remember having a clinic appointment and then going over to Fenway for a radio interview. Glenn Ordway from WEEI told me on the air that I should run the bases and not listen to the people if they told me to get off. I originally thought he was joking. But then, after I sang, Mike Andrews, then the chairman of the Jimmy Fund, told me to run to first base. I wound up going around all of the bases. The crowd got louder for every base I hit. I didn’t get a look, but I am sure that there were people crying in the stands. I thought that I was just helping the Jimmy Fund raise more money, which I would always like to help with after all they did for me, but I feel like I have also made a difference in others’ lives — and inspired others.
Now on to the 2013 season. About two weeks before the radio-telethon, I was told I was going to be included in the ceremony, but they were not positive what it was I was doing. But then they told my dad and he told me that I would be throwing out the first pitch with Jason Wolfe of WEEI on August 27, nine years to the day of my first time singing at Fenway.
On the day of the radio-telethon, when they talked about both me and Jason, I remember the crowd erupting when the PA announcer spoke of me throwing a no-hitter [in summer league baseball]. So Jason and I walked out to the mound and we were throwing to Mike Carp and Will Middlebrooks. I threw to Mike, a “get me over” fastball for a strike. It was pretty cool. After that, we walked by the Sox dugout and gave high fives to some of the players. I remember my sister, Lily, waving to Daniel Nava. It was SO cool. Then the Sox pounded the Orioles; Shane Victorino hit two homers and Mike Napoli hit a MOONSHOT.
I am truly grateful for all that the Jimmy Fund has done for me. Without them, I don’t think I would have ever been able to live my life the way I do by playing sports and going to school. I may not even be here without them.