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All American Game | Story | 7/9/2013

All-Americans and Miracle Makers

Matt Rodriguez     
Photo: Perfect Game

MARIETTA, Ga. – A trio of San Diego ballplayers have been named to the Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings, to be played Sunday, August 11 at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres and televised live on MLB Network.  However, the experience has brought them an opportunity that goes much deeper than just playing a baseball game.

Alex Jackson, Sean Bouchard, and Brady Aiken have been given the opportunity to make an impact on something much greater than any game or individual. They are raising money to help the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children’s Hospital as this year’s Miracle Makers of the Perfect Game All-American Baseball Classic.

The Peckham Center, just down the street from Petco Park, has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s best cancer programs in its “Best Children’s Hospitals” edition for three straight years.

Each player has set a fundraising goal of $5,000 to help the kids and families battling serious disorders and deadly cancers. They have found the experience to be life changing.

Before participating in a press conference to announce being named PG All-Americans, Jackson, Bouchard, and Aiken took a tour through Rady Children’s Hospital to give them a clearer picture of how impacting their fundraising efforts will be.

It really opened our eyes and made us appreciate what we have and it was a really humbling experience,” said Bouchard, currently participating in the 17u WWBA National Championship along with Jackson for the San Diego Show. “That really helped us with the press conference, knowing that where we are is a really blessed situation and that we’re gonna try and make the most of it.”

The three San Diego baseball stars got a glimpse of what the patients go through on a daily basis when they walked through the 475-bed pediatric-care facility. Jackson recalled seeing all the faces of the children; all happy and carefree, despite their unfortunate situations.

It definitely gets in your heart and shows you that although there’s things holding you back from what you could potentially do in the future, they’re still having a great time and enjoying their life as they can,” Jackson said, who also participated for the San Diego Show at last week's 18u WWBA National Championship.

You just realize there’s kids in there that have to be moved around in a wheelchair, but their having a blast: laughing, smiling. You can’t ask for anything more,” said Jackson. “It’s an amazing experience.”

Getting the opportunity to make a powerful impact on the lives of kids who are suffering from a variety of disorders and cancers is a strong motivation for the trio, who’s fundraising efforts will be greatly appreciated by the families of the patients.

It’s a nonprofit center, so all the money that goes into it is either by donations or by people funding it,” explained Bouchard. “That’s what we’re trying to do, raise awareness and raise money for people who need it the most.”

What more could you want but to help people out who don’t have as fortunate of lives as us,” added Jackson.

The three San Diego-based PG All-Americans have turned their fundraising efforts into a friendly competition and are having a lot of fun with it. To this point, Brady Aiken, who did not travel to Georgia with the San Diego Show for the 17u WWBA National Championship, is leading the competition with nearly $1,500 raised.

We’re competing to help out the kids who don’t have as bright of futures and as lucky circumstances as we do, so it’s definitely a great thing to be a part of,” Jackson said.

None of us have really raised money on our own before and that’s part of the fun -- just getting to meet new people through charity and fundraising,” said Bouchard.

There have been talks of a prize for whoever raises the most money, but that doesn’t matter to these guys, who use the kids at Rady Children’s Hospital as the only motivation they need.

The prize is getting to see these kids, these families, get to do what they need to do to help these kids in need and just being able to see them succeed and beat whatever disorder or cancer they have,” Bouchard said.

The ballplayers have been building connections and socializing on a wide scale in order to raise as much money as they can, using social media as a source, along with word-of-mouth.

We’re just getting the word out there for all of our friends (and) all of our friends’ families to see,” said Bouchard. “I know some of us have connections to people who have a lot of money, people who do give a lot to charity work and fundraising, so we’re just getting the word out (and) having fun with this.”

Together, the three of them have seen money come in from all corners of the country. Jackson takes the generosity of others to heart.

You look at your life and you go about your day – have food, go to the grocery store, all that kind of stuff. These kids stay in the hospital 24/7 (and) can’t do anything,” Jackson said. “They are just helping out and doing everything they can to raise money for the kids, so it’s definitely a special fundraiser and we’re enjoying it a lot.”

It’s a great feeling to see. It lets us know what our community is all about. Not just our community, but humanity as a whole,” Bouchard added. “It lets you know that no matter where we are in life – financially, socially, mentally, or physically – we always have room in our hearts to help someone else less fortunate than us.”

Jackson can still recall what he saw on his visit through the children’s hospital and it has given him a new outlook on some things about life and about what is most important

We saw the kids walking through the hallways and in rooms with their families and it shows how much of a connection they have with their families. I’m sure all kids sometimes take their families for granted, but it showed you that if everything else in the world is gone your family is always gonna be there for you,” said Jackson. “They have these kids’ backs every single moment of the day and would do anything for them so it’s incredible.”

The San Diego natives will return to Rady Children’s Hospital the weekend of the Perfect Game All-American Classic with the rest of the All-Americans. Bouchard is eager to witness the impact the visit will have on his fellow ballplayers like it did on him.

Everyone who is selected for the game will be out there to talk to some of the kids and families and really get a feel for what we had during the tour,” Bouchard said. “I think it’s gonna be a really special, humbling experience for them.”

Rady Children’s Hospital first opened its doors in 1954 to 12 patients during the polio epidemic. Since then, it has treated nearly two million sick or injured children. Children's hospitals across the country have been the beneficiary of the Classic since 2003 which has generated close to $805,000.

You can donate money to support any of the three players at this link:

Team of Miracle Makers Page of the Perfect Game All-American Classic
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