You hear people say all the time that things happen for a reason…well this story is proof of that! This past April, I traveled to Detroit to host Brain Aneuysm Awareness Night at Comerica Park, where I had the opportunity to address the crowd, throw out the 1st pitch and talk about The Joe Niekro Foundation. I received a very gracious welcome and distinctly remember a specific group in the crowd that gave me a standing ovation after I threw the baffling Knuckleball across home plate. A few days after I returned, I received an email through the foundation website from a man named, Mike, who had attended the game in Detroit. He was writing to tell me he had learned that his best friend, Steve, had just suffered a ruptured aneurysm and was being treated at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. Mike knew I lived in AZ, so was hoping that I could contact Steve and his family to gives my words of encouragement. My numerous attempts to reach Steve wereunfortunately unsuccessful as he was allowed no visitors in ICU. Mike and I stayed in touch during this time, as he provided me updates on how Steve was progressing. Steve ended up spending over seven weeks at Barrow and was just recently released, but still under 24 hour care. Flash forward to three days ago, when I received an unexpected and extremely welcoming email from Shellee. Shellee, I soon discovered was Steve’s sister and was writing to tell me that she had gotten my name from Mike and was in town for the week, getting Steve adjusted to his new home away from home, the home that would be providing him with around the clock care and thorough rehabilitation for the next several weeks as he regains his strength and mobility. Well yesterday, I finally had the privilege to finally meet Steve…and Shellee, and have to admit that yesterday made my entire year. I had prepared myself for the worst, as I wasn’t sure of Steve’s current state, but was so relieved to find Steve copping a big smile and determined to overcome the challenges that lie ahead. Steve’s courage is beyond words and his perserverance is unstoppable. We talked for hours, sharing baseball stories, reliving the day of Steve’s aneurysm and putting together the plan of attack on how Steve is going to beat the enemy we know as aneurysms. I am committed to Steve’s recovery, just like he is and can’t wait to talk to him again. So, last night as I lay my head on the pillow to go to sleep, I thanked the Lord for bringing me to Mike, Shellee and Steve. The future ahead is a bright one and I look forward to this beautiful new friendship…one that was brought together by an unfortunate tradegy, but will thrive forever through our shared passion for life. Mike, thank you for finding me. Shellee, thank you for reaching out and Steve…thank you for… BEING YOU!
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