'The coolest thing ever': Young P.E.I. cancer survivor to throw first pitch at Blue Jays game
7-year-old Harrison Maye continued playing baseball throughout his battle against cancer
Just months after successfully battling cancer, 7-year-old Harrison Maye will take the field at Rogers Centre in Toronto on Wednesday, and throw out the first pitch before the Blue Jays battle the Yankees.
"It's pretty much the coolest thing ever," said Maye, of Fort Augustus, P.E.I. "I get to meet all the Blue Jays players."
Maye's mom, Sherri, got the call two weeks ago from the IWK Foundation, saying the family of five would be flown to Toronto, and that Harrison had been selected to throw out the first pitch.
"I was just so emotional, like I cried," she said. "I'm so proud of him, and just want to sing from the rooftops about how proud I am, and celebrate him for everything he's gone through at such a young age."
'He didn't see his sickness as a barrier to playing ball'
Last July, Harrison had just started his first summer of baseball in Stratford, P.E.I., when he was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of cancer that hinders the body's ability to battle infections.
"Obviously that's about the worst news you can ever expect to hear about your child. It was really tough and really scary," explained his mom.
"Harrison knew about cancer because he knew about Terry Fox. He had a lot of questions about that, you know, 'Well I know Terry Fox had cancer, and he lost his leg and he died. Is that going to happen to me?'"
Harrison underwent five months of treatment at Halifax's IWK Health Centre.
His dad, Cory Maye, said his son's positive attitude and spirit never wavered — nor did his love of baseball.
"He didn't see his sickness as a barrier to playing ball, so he tried to get out there as often as he could. Even when he couldn't make it to the field, we were playing around the yard," said Cory.
'Strength, bravery, and unwavering enthusiasm'
Finally, last November, Harrison and has family got the official word: he was cancer free.
"I literally burst into tears. It's joy and such relief," said his mom. "I couldn't believe it that it was just a few months ago we found out he had cancer. And now it was over, and we'd done it, and powered through it. And it was just an unbelievable feeling."
Harrison got back to playing baseball in June, as part of the Dairy Queen Rally Cap program in Stratford.
It was through that program that Dairy Queen Canada, the IWK Foundation, and the Children's Miracle Network heard about Harrison, and selected him to throw out the first pitch.
"This opportunity will honour his strength, bravery, and unwavering enthusiasm throughout his difficult journey," Dairy Queen said in a news release.
For the past two weeks, Harrison says he's been busy playing catch with his dad, getting ready for his big pitch.
"I'm kind of nervous about all the people watching me," he admitted.
An inspiration to others
"We're just telling him don't worry about the pitch, just go out and have fun, that he's so lucky to get this opportunity," said his mom.
Sherri's hopeful Harrison's big moment may offer some comfort to others as well.
"To know a child just diagnosed with cancer last summer, that the next summer he's throwing the first pitch at a Jays game, I think that's comforting for other families and children experiencing something like this to know."
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