Panthers have raised upward of $5,000 already this season — including $1,200 from a March 5 game against Olympia.
The Dr. Phillips baseball team did not win its rivalry game Saturday afternoon against the Olympia Titans — but there was an element of victory for coach Mike Bradley’s program March 5.
The game was the Panthers’ official “Vs. Cancer” game, a part of the team’s partnership with the Vs. Cancer Foundation this spring. The Vs. Cancer Foundation empowers athletes and teams to help with the fight against pediatric cancer.
Bradley’s program is no stranger to the devastating nature of cancer. The entire Dr. Phillips community was affected by the passing of Ian Supra, and the baseball team has helped fundraise in the past for Jorden Aponte, an eighth-grader who plays his baseball for Dr. Phillips Little League.
Most recently, the entire prep baseball community of Central Florida has been rocked by the plight of Bishop Moore’s Joe Skinner, a UCF commit who has been diagnosed with leukemia.
All of that considered, Bradley decided he wanted his players to do something about it.
“It was more of a challenge for my kids to have them do something for someone else in need and do it with passion,” Bradley said. “There’s bigger things in life than baseball, that’s for sure.”
The team has taken to it with enthusiasm.
Saturday’s game raised $1,200 on the day, and the Vs. Cancer fundraising by the Panthers, which is ongoing throughout the season, already has topped the team’s goal of $5,000 (Dr. Phillips has raised $5,653 as of March 9).
“We’ve had several kids who have raised over $500 and done a really good job of getting out there,” Bradley said.
Anyone interested in donating to the Panthers’ fundraising efforts, 50% of which will fund national cancer research efforts while the other half will go directly to Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital, can visit bit.ly/1QAzPtE or consult the program’s Facebook page, facebook.com/DPHSbaseball.
In this case, the benefits can be rather direct. Aponte, for instance, is still fighting a battle with an extremely rare and dangerous form of cancer known as desmoplastic small-round blue-cell tumors. Last summer, he had to be rushed to Arnold Palmer’s Children’s Hospital and missed an All-Star baseball game.
Bradley hopes his team’s efforts will help and that the youngster will soon suit up as a high-school baseball player — for the Panthers, of course.