LAKEWOOD RANCH — Baseball has saved the life of 13-year-old Andrew Giddens in many ways — first in aiding his diagnosis with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and later as his focal point for battling through chemotherapy.
Because of his illness, Andrew has shaken hands with and hugged some of his favorite players, including Evan Longoria, a third baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays, and Derek Jeter, a shortstop with the New York Yankees.
And last week, he got to see them again, thanks to a special Father’s Day promotion from Lakewood Ranch Main Street. Helaine and Andrew Giddens had registered for a chance to win four tickets to the July 29 Rays-Yankees game, plus a limousine ride to it and $100 gift card to any store on Lakewood Ranch Main Street for a Father’s Day drawing.
Helaine Giddens’ name was selected July 1.
Andrew, his parents and his uncle, John Ball, traveled to Tropicana Field last week for the match-up between the young catcher’s two favorite teams.
“I was so excited for (Andrew),” Helaine Giddens said. “We’ve all really gotten into (baseball).”
“It was wonderful,” Andrew’s father, Randy, added. “The game was so good. It was so great to see a smile on his face. It’s something we can do together.”
Although it was exciting for Andrew to watch his favorite teams in action, his loyalty was torn. During Andrew’s illness last year, the Children’s Dream Fund arranged for him to travel to New York to meet his favorite Yankees players. But he also has grown to love the Rays. He attended numerous summer baseball camps with the team and even shot a commercial with Rays’ pitcher Scott Kazmir for the Children’s Dream Fund.
“It was really intense,” Andrew said of the game. “I had a Rays shirt on, but I had my Yankees shirt on underneath.”
Andrew said he was hoping the game would be a little closer — it ended with a 6-2 win for the Yankees — but he was thrilled to see Longoria hit a homerun in the ninth and knock in a second run, too.
Contact Pam McTeer at email@example.com.
Andrew Giddens was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma over the Fourth of July weekend in 2008. Six months prior, he had been catching during a baseball game when the ball bounced suddenly and hit him in the upper thigh. After the game, Andrew noticed a bump where the ball had hit, but it never went away. At first, doctors shrugged it off, but six months later they discovered it was stage one Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Andrew kept up with baseball players and their stats during his chemotherapy and brought a baseball to each treatment to keep his mind occupied.
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