Northwood University baseball team adopts young cancer patient
CEDAR HILL – When Northwood University’s head baseball Coach Jeremy Kennedy learned earlier this year a brain tumor took 6-year-old Benjamin Landrey’s eyesight and ability to walk, he knew he and his team had to help.
Since then, Kennedy has learned Benjamin is a strong and courageous boy who has become incredibly important to everyone associated with baseball at Northwood University.
Kennedy met Benjamin and his family through an organization called Friends of Jaclyn — a charity that improves the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors and their families by matching them with local athletic teams.
Friends of Jaclyn put Kennedy in contact with Benjamin’s mother, Kelley and the team invited the Landrey family to a practice.
The relationship blossomed.
"He and his family would come to practices and games. Our guys really took ownership of Benjamin and kept in daily contact with him," said Kennedy.
"We have just taken him in as a part of our team.
"Our team is a family and now he is a member."
Benjamin’s health issues began in May 2009 when he was playing a Cedar Hill Cubs little league baseball game.
He suddenly fell as he ran first to second base and his parents took him to a pediatrician who suggested Benjamin have an MRI. That’s when they received the devastating news: brain cancer. But today, after surgery and treatment, Benjamin has no trace of the tumor in his brain.
Kennedy said Benjamin has given him and his team great perspective.
Their relationship has shown the players there are bigger and more important things than baseball — but it’s also shown them baseball can be a great tool to do good.
For instance, one of Benjamin’s favorite places to eat is the McDonald’s in Cedar Hill.
Recently, more than a dozen members of the baseball team turned out to eat – and even played on the playground – with him.
"I think it gives Benjamin something exciting to look forward to," said Kennedy.
"He is our biggest fan. More than anything, I think our players give Benjamin a distraction from the terrible things he is going through with his cancer."
It’s not the actual playing of the game that is so important — it’s the relationships that come through all the hard work, said Kennedy.
Benjamin has become a key figure in those relationships.
"To us, baseball is more than just a game; it’s a tool that brings us all together as a family," said Kennedy.
"It allows us to help pick each other up when circumstances present those opportunities."
Kelley Landrey, Benjamin’s mother, is deeply grateful to Northwood and its baseball team for their compassion and prayers. Kelley, her husband, Mark, Benjamin and twin daughters Katie and Sarah, 4, live in Cedar Hill.
Benjamin was homebound last year, but will be attending Lake Ridge Elementary in Cedar Hill this academic year.
Incidentally, Northwood’s Director of Athletics Pat Malcheski was Landrey’s math teacher at Duncanville High School in the ‘80s.