Matt Sullivan had looked forward to playing third base and possibly pitching for the West High baseball team this year.
He has had to put his plans on hold, but he does hope to throw the first pitch Saturday in a game that will be dedicated to him.
Sullivan was recovering this week from another round of chemotherapy, the treatment for T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. While the treatments have diminished his strength, they have also eliminated most of the life-threatening cancer cells from his blood and bone marrow.
“It’s just a process of every day getting closer to being back to having a normal life,” said Sullivan, 16, a junior at West High.
Saturday’s 11 a.m. game against Bear Creek High, a non-league contest, is a benefit to help pay for Sullivan’s medical expenses and his family’s regular travel and living expenses as they shuttle between Tracy and Roseville, where Sullivan is staying while under treatment at Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center.
Sullivan has played baseball since he was four years old, including seasons with Tracy Babe Ruth, Tracy Little League and travel ball teams before he joined the West baseball team in his freshman year. He had been working out with his West teammates in summer and fall conditioning up until December.
He learned he had leukemia after he went to his doctor to check out persistent flu-like symptoms. He’s now in the middle of the initial nine-month treatment regimen and will need to continue treatment for two to three years.
Becky Sullivan, Matt’s mother, said the treatment has been effective.
“When he first started it was 96 percent of his white blood cells were cancerous. Now it’s down to zero percent,” she said. “Every day is one day closer to beating the cancer.”
Matt said that help for his family with medical expenses means a lot, but he’s especially grateful to know that the Wolf Pack family supports him by having a benefit event.
“It’s great to know that there are so many people behind me,” he said. “It makes you feel better and makes you want to keep fighting.”
West coach Roger Gallardo said the team will raise money through donations at the field, plus a barbecue and silent auction. He added that players and coaches figure it’s the least the can for their teammate.
“You know when he takes the field he’s going to give it everything he can,” Gallardo said of Sullivan. “If there’s anyone who can fight through this he’s the one.”
Go to Bat for Matt
WHEN: 11 a.m. Saturday
WHERE: West High baseball field, 1775 W. Lowell Ave.
COST: Donations will be accepted in lieu of admission fees
INFO: West coach Roger Gallardo, email@example.com or 914-5673
Contact Bob Brownne at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-4227.