Local boy uses passion for baseball to overcome leukemia

Local boy uses passion for baseball to overcome leukemia
Published: Sep. 24, 2022 at 12:12 AM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -This week, Western Mass News spoke with Andrew Stark an eighth grader who suffered from leukemia and used baseball to help him overcome the challenges in his way.

“I think you guys told me one time that I had leukemia. and I thought I am going to be in the hospital for so long. I am not going to be able to go outside and play, that’s going to sucks,” Andrew said.

At the age of five years old, Andrew Stark was diagnosed with T-Cell Leukemia.

Andrew’s mom, Julie, told Western Mass News he had a long road of recovery in front of him.

“What stinks about chemotherapy is that it does not differentiate between good blood cells and bad blood cells. he ended up having to have a lot of blood transfusions and platelet transfusions,” Julie explained.

Julie told Western Mass News that after a year of treatment, he relapsed three times.

“We were told his best chance for survival would be a bone marrow transplant. so, we went through the process,” Julie said.

At the age of 7, Andrew’s older sister, Emily, became his bone marrow donor.

The surgery was a success but Andrew had to miss two years of school in the process.

“When he first went back to school he could only go to recess because we had to be outside because he had no immune system,” Julie said.

Over time, Andrew’s stamina would begin to suffer.

That’s when the Miracle League of Western Mass. stepped in.

“The Miracle League of Western Mass is a baseball league for kids with a cognitive and physical disabilities. We handle kids from 4 to age 19,” said Brian Feeley, president of the Miracle League of western Mass,’ Feeley said.

Feeley said they play baseball at Springfield College with the goal of giving kids a sense of support, commodore, and fun!

“In baseball you are not always going to be on top of the world. but the miracle league allowed me to feel like I was on top of the world. people cheering you, it gives you a good feeling,” Stark said.

Andrew told Western Mass News that baseball gives him a sense of freedom.

“It takes me away from what I have to do in the real world. and I can just focus on playing the game and getting better,” Andrew said.

Feeley told Western Mass News that Andrew left a lasting impression on the field.

“I always say I have 60 kids on the field with me in the spring and the fall. And Andrew is one of those where a special bond and friendship was made and it will really never go away,” Feeley said.

Julie told Western Mass News he is no longer in remission, he is cancer-free.

More information on how you can participate in the Miracle League of Western Mass can be found here.