COMSTOCK PARK, Mich.-- Thursday marked a very special night at Fifth Third Ballpark for one group of kids. 17 kids that are battling cancer or have gone through treatment were the stars of the show at the West Michigan Whitecaps game.
For many of the kids, their days are filled with hospital beds, needle pokes and long hours ta the hospital instead of time spent just being a kid. Thursday was all about them at the Whitecaps game where they got to call the shots.
"We're actually honoring cancer survivors from Helen DeVos Children's Hospital," said Scott Stenstrom, vice president of marketing at Fifth Third Bank. "We often think of cancer and how it affects men and women, but we often overlook how it affects kids.
Fifth Third Bank partnered with Stand Up To Cancer for the fourth year in a row by inviting kids currently battling cancer or those who have gone through treatment to take on different jobs at the game.
"It was awesome because there was this little girl named Ava who was running around and following us down the stairs," said pitcher Clate Schmidt. "She just had the brightest smile and she's getting to help out. I think she's getting to be a little bat girl."
The kids helped out the grounds crew, worked the PA and were managers for the night.
"We're giving them a special night where they can have some fun and runaround the ballpark," said Stenstrom.
It was a game with extra special meaning for Clate Schmidt, a cancer survivor himself.
"Just being able to see these kids get out of the house and get out of the hospital," said Schmidt. "I know how it is and I know it's such a tough thing to be able to separate yourself from being sick to just being able to go out and have fun as a kid again. Especially these young kids that are battling stuff. It's so terrible and really just seeing their smile when they're going through this stuff is really cool."
Each kid got to feel like a celebrity for the night complete with their own baseball cards to sign autographs.
"It's really uplifting for not only myself, but for the guys around us," said Schmidt.