Sports

Marysville Little League raises $7,000 for ailing athlete

MARYSVILLE — Baseball has been a steady presence in the lives of Ron and Connie Lechner since their son Bryson, started in bitty ball.

But when their younger son Nolan, a 10-year-old pitcher and outfielder for Marysville Little League team Pepsi, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia this May, their world was turned upside down.

As it turned out, baseball would also try to help keep the family on their feet.

Marysville Little League, which annually hosts the Strawberry Tournament at Cedar Field for Little League teams around the district, turned the tournament's home run derby and fastest baserunner contest June 9 into a fundraiser to contribute toward the family's medical expenses. Teams, families, businesses and community members sponsored home runs in the derby, all benefiting Lechner.

"When one of our own got sick, everyone said we've got to do something," said league president Judd Luton. "The league wanted to come up with something big."

Between home run sponsorships, half of concession sales and winnings from the 50-50 drawings that take place at each game, tournament director Cully Preston estimated the league raised $7,000 for the Lechners. In addition, on behalf of the league, Luton invited Nolan to join the 9- and 10-year-old all-star team.

Once an active family that toted the kids between sports, Connie Lechner now stays home to tend to Nolan's care.

"We're a family that usually go, go, go," she said. "We're learning to say no to things. Now, we just have to stop."

Nolan, who attends Allen Creek Elementary School, has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment since his diagnosis. It's the first phase of a three-year treatment plan, a phase that could end within the next several weeks if he responds well to the treatment. Because of his age, Nolan is at high risk. But, his mother added, his form of childhood leukemia is the most common and curable kind.

It takes five years of remission before doctors will call a patient cured.

Bryson has traded in his baseball cleats for a fishing rod, Ron said, and has been an aspiring pilot since his grandfather arranged an opportunity for him to take an orientation flight. Bryson sat by his brother's side throughout the home run derby.

"We're closer together as a family," Connie Lechner said. "We had to stop and see what was important."

For more information about how to help Nolan and his family, contact league president Judd Luton at teamluton@comcast.net.

Fastest base runner

1st Keynan Foster Lake Stevens

2nd Aaron Avalos Mill Creek

3rd David Gloyd Marysville

Home run derby

1st Aaron Avalos Mill Creek

2nd Tyler Hust Marysville

3rd Kanim Posey Marysville

Overall winner Aaron Avalos Mill Creek

Click here for more photos.

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