SEVILLE — Four-year-old Ryan Stricker of Seville was a guest of honor during a special event with the Akron RubberDucks last Friday evening at Canal Park that included everything from a visit to the dugout to hitting the field for a run around the bases.
Ryan was one of two Akron Children’s Hospital patients selected to run the bases during the Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders annual celebration event at Canal Park.
“The nurses said Ryan would be the perfect candidate because he loves baseball,” his mom, Jessica Stricker, said this week.
Stricker said the family already was planning to attend the annual celebration hosted by the hematology and oncology floors of Akron Children’s Hospital, but they did not know Ryan would receive the red carpet treatment until a few days before the game that pitted the Akron RubberDucks against the Harrisburg Senators.
“He loves, loves sports, so when he got asked to do that with the RubberDucks, he was just tickled,” Stricker said. “I mean he had the time of his life there. It was incredible.”
RubberDucks general manager Jim Pfander said more than 2,000 kids from the hospital and their families participated in the annual event.
“The whole night is a celebration about these kids and how they have been able to overcome cancer or blood disorders,” Pfander said.
Stricker said Ryan has been receiving chemotherapy treatments up to three times a week for the last six months, and the outlook is positive.
“We have a long journey ahead, but the prognosis is really good,” she said. “It is like a 95 percent cure rate, so we are not necessarily worried about the prognosis; it is just the journey that goes along with it.”
During the game, the RubberDucks wore jerseys designed by a young cancer patient from the hospital.
“We give them a template and they are able to put whatever they want on it,” he said.
The wining design this year was submitted by Sydney Robertson, 10, of Magnolia.
“She did a great job. She had rockets on the back and ‘celebrate life,’” Pfander said.
Stricker said Ryan and the family were able to spend about half an inning in the dugout during the game.
“He was just so chill. He was just so laid back,” she said. “He was talking to them like they were anybody else.”
Pfander said there was not a dry eye in the stadium that night.
“It is one of those moments where, as an operator, and we are the community’s team, and you look at it and you are like, ‘Well this is why we do what we do,’ ” he said.
Anyone wishing to learn more about Ryan and his journey can visit www.facebook.com/RyanStrickers journey2018.
Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.