BALTIMORE, Md. - It's practice time for the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays. It is not your ordinary practice.
The team is gearing up for the Inaugural Blue Jay "Stick It To Sarcoma Fundraiser." Team member, Rachel Ballatori's, father has Sarcoma.
"Last November my father was diagnosed with Sarcoma. He was given three months to live. We are almost through one year of painful chemotherapy. He's a fighter. He's my inspiration in this tournament," said Rachel Ballatori, event organizer.
Rachel turned the fall Lacrosse Tournament into a fundraiser for Sarcoma to help her father and patients like him. Nearly 13,000 patients are diagnosed with Sarcoma of the bone and tissue each year.
Sarcomas are malignant tumors that come from transformed cells within connective tissue in the body.
"We need to raise money and awareness because it's so rare. We don't have enough money going for research and at Johns Hopkins we have some incredible researchers and doctors that are working on different ways to diagnose it and treat it and help patients," said Dr. Kristy Weber, Director of Johns Hopkins Sarcoma Program.
The prognosis is not good for Rachel's dad. She wants to give him a fighting chance.
"Rachel's dad's Sarcoma is in a terrible spot. It's in his heart. It's a difficult position to operate and to treat. It's a tough area," said Dr. Weber with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Rachels' teammates support her on the fundraiser. They changed the tournament name to help. The tournament will be held on Saturday October 22nd when the Blue Jays take on Navy and Cincinnati.
Rachel says her dad has been an inspiration to see his strength and determination in fighting the disease.
"I see pain yet survival. He never lets it show to his family. He is very tough for us. He almost feels guilty. He is a great guy. He is selfless and he is excited about the tournament," said Rachel.
If you would like to make a donation to the Sarcoma Fundraiser, please call 410-955-2888 or log onto www.hopkinssarcoma.org.