HOUSTON (FOX 26) - While fans cheer for the Astros, the team often cheers on young cancer patients through groups like the Sunshine Kids Foundation.
Hall of Famer Craig Biggio has been joining forces with the organization for decades and meets up with young cancer patients on a regular basis.
One of those is young baseball player and Astros fan, 5-year old Colt Wilson. After he was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer when he was only two, the Sunshine Kids and Houston Astros embraced him and his family. Colt even got to throw out a first pitch at an Astros game last year. The crowd went wild, clapping for Colt.
"Fun! It was fun, and I got to meet Craig Biggio. I was kind of excited and I liked it! It was fun and it was cool," smiles Colt.
"Colt's first pitch meant a lot. I don't think he got the gravity of it, but us being a huge baseball family, it meant the world, and seeing a kid that you didn't know if he was going to make it through treatment out there doing something so big was so awesome. We loved it," exclaims Colt's mother Cortni.
Colt and his family really look up to former Astros player Craig Biggio, who helped put the Sunshine Kids on the map more than 30 years ago.
"So many people call it the 'house that Craig built'. Such an incredible man and family. He donated the deck and playground at Sunshine Kids and he still hosts so many events throughout the year. The Sunshine Kids is a national non-profit organization, started right here in Houston in 1982. We provide quality activities for children with cancer and their families," explains Jennifer Wisler, who is the Director of Children's Services with the Sunshine Kids Foundation.
"What the Sunshine Kids is to me is my family, our family, my family's family, we're in this thing together," says Craig.
He goes on to explain how his life was touched by cancer when he was just a boy, after losing his childhood friend to leukemia.
"When I was a kid growing up, I made a promise to the family that if I was ever in a position to give back, I would try to and then I was introduced to the Sunshine Kids my first year in the Big Leagues. I love them. Great kids with great stories, but difficult and hard stories, too. Amazing people work here. The amount of love here is beautiful," says Craig.
Twila Carter, with the Astros Foundation, has hit the ball out of the park, when it comes to getting the team even more involved with the Sunshine Kids.
"We invite these kids out, throw the first pitch, play ball call, do the base stealer and be part of the end game elements. For a small, young baseball player like Colt to connect with the baseball players and to throw out a pitch at an Astros game is something that many fans, their lifelong dream would be to do that," says Twila.
Jennifer with the Sunshine Kids says it is amazing to witness how Twila Carter has helped take their partnership with the Astros to another level. It sure is rewarding for local families.
"It's amazing to be part of the transformation of a child when they are battling loneliness, depression, and thinking they're the only ones going through it, but then an organization like the Sunshine Kids partners with the Astros and community giants like that, bringing the kids and their families out into the sunshine and bringing activities back that maybe cancer diagnosis has robbed them of. The Houston Astros have done so much for the Sunshine Kids. They are truly community giants and have always been world champions to us and continue to be so! We wish them well and are excited about the positive impacts they'll continue to make on and off the diamond," smiles Jennifer.
Biggio agrees. "They're just like we were! They just want to play and have fun! Jose Altuve continues to help us out with the Sunshine Kids. They'll come through the stadium and so they're real and good players and I'm excited for the season. As every season, you just pray for health and hopefully our guys get through it healthy and we'll see what we'll get into in September and October.
For more information, https://www.sunshinekids.org/