The Dayton Dragons and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Ohio have been partnering since 2004 to bring Dragons fans the iconic Home Run for Life program. Each season, Anthem and the Dragons recognize brave children who, with the help of their families, friends, and health care team, are presently battling or have successfully overcome significant medical events in their young life.
Home Run for Life events are promoted in advance through newspaper ads, radio spots and the Dragons game program, PlayBall! A personalized newspaper ad in the Dayton Daily News tells each honoree's story a few days prior to their event. And the honoree's photo and story are featured on the fold-out inside front cover of the complimentary PlayBall! game program handed out to all attendees on the night of their Home Run for Life.
During each Home Run for Life, Anthem hosts the honoree and his/her support team of family, friends, doctors, and Anthem representatives in a luxury suite.
Each honoree is recognized on the field during an inning break. The honoree, their family and support team are taken onto the field and the honoree gets to take a symbolic lap around the bases to a standing ovation from the crowd.
Learn more about last year’s honorees:
Garrett was an active 10-year-old – one who loved to play soccer and be with his friends at recess. In August 2022, Garrett came home from a soccer game very thirsty. Garrett’s mom, Sara, assumed it was from physical activity. One cup became two, two became three, and she continued to watch as her son drank more and more water.
As her concerns grew, Sara took to the internet to find answers. Everything she researched pointed in the direction of childhood diabetes. Immediately worried, she made an appointment with the family pediatrician. When Garrett and his parents arrived at the office, several tests confirmed those suspicions Sara had. Garrett, who just found out he has Type 1 Diabetes, was loaded in an ambulance with his father, and headed to the hospital.
Garrett was rushed into a room where needles, medications, and doctors moved around him for the next 72 hours. The Fritz family stayed busy meeting with nutritionists, social workers, and doctors. They were being trained in the science of diabetes, and nurses were in and out of the room administering medication and prepping Garrett for scans… the family was never alone.
When they transitioned back home, the Fritz’s had a lot to adjust to – counting carbs, weighing food, administering shots, and pricking fingers to check blood sugar numbers. If his blood sugar was too low, Garrett needed to consume a certain amount of carbs. If his blood sugar was too high, they would have to administer a shot of insulin. A difficult task for a kid who hates needles. Now, Garrett’s Dexcom device monitors his levels.
With any new venture, a support system is important. His long-time best friend, Cooper, has been on the same journey as Garrett. Cooper started his battle with childhood diabetes at 4 years old. Cooper and his family have been a cornerstone for the Fritz family providing them with comfort, support, and answers in times of unease, in addition to others that are here supporting him tonight.
This journey is one that Garrett will continue to battle, but he knows he is not alone. He says, “While it is scary at first, I have a great support system that helps it be manageable.” Garrett continues to play soccer and hopes to play professionally one day. While he isn’t outside on the field, Garrett loves to put LEGOs together.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Dayton Dragons applaud all those who have been instrumental in Garrett’s life, including his family, best friend Cooper, and his entire medical team.
December of 2022 started off like normal for Tripp and his family. Everyone was looking forward to the holiday. Around mid-month, Tripp started showing some signs of an illness. He had very swollen lymph nodes in his neck and a rash of tiny red dots that covered his back, then his face, feet, and hands. Tripp also had complained of some leg pain periodically. After an exam at the pediatrician, they were quickly referred to the emergency room for further testing as they suspected it was more serious than other sicknesses that were going around at the time.
Tripp was examined at the ER and after some bloodwork he was diagnosed with T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). ALL is a type of childhood cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. The plan after a diagnosis is intense – spinal taps, PICC lines, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, and immediately starting radiation. Tripp had some kidney issues and too high of potassium levels that he needed to get under control first and then his treatment plan began only two days after his condition was confirmed.
Despite the challenges that come with treatment, Tripp continues to be a brave and happy 4-year-old. While needles aren’t his favorite he gets through it with the help of his mom, dad, and big sister, Lola. Tripp enjoys spending time with his dog, Cooper and his cat, Sugar. He loves playing video games and doing things with his family and friends. If he could be like any superhero – it would definitely be Spiderman!
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Dayton Dragons applaud all those who have been instrumental in Tripp’s life, including his family, the community, and his entire medical team.
November 2022 was normal for the Ranly household. The kids were in school, playing sports, and the holidays were coming up. 11-year-old Reid started with a low-grade fever and flu-like symptoms. He and his mom, Sandy, were eager to get his illness out of the way in time for his older brother’s state football championship the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
By Friday, Reid appeared to be much better. He was tired but spent the night swimming and playing games with other kids. However, on the following Monday, Reid returned home from basketball practice and told his mom that he couldn’t breathe. Several days later, his coach even mentioned that he appeared very pale.
Sandy asked several family members about the symptoms Reid was showing. They agreed it seemed abnormal and recommended getting his labs checked. The following day at school, Reid’s gym teacher noticed he was having a hard time keeping up, even though he was one of the most active kids in the class. Sandy took her son to the emergency room where Reid’s dad, Jesse, was going to meet them.
COVID, flu, and strep tests all came back negative. His labs showed a very low hemoglobin count, a sure sign of cancer. Before they knew it, the Ranly’s were in an ambulance headed to the hospital where a group of doctors were already waiting for them. There, they confirmed that Reid had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
ALL is a type of childhood cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. The plan after a diagnosis is intense – spinal taps, PICC lines, blood transfusions, and immediately start chemotherapy. Reid has also been on a high dose of steroids to kill off the leukemia cells. Despite the difficulties that come with treatment, Reid stands firm knowing “the treatments might make me tired and weak, but I am strong. And I can get through this.” Reid will be heading into sixth grade at Marion Local next fall.
In February 2023, the Kopp family was enjoying a relaxing vacation in Florida. Lucy, a shy, but spunky and active 7-year-old, was experiencing frequent nightmares and what her mom, Kendra, believed to be a UTI infection. They made an appointment with her pediatrician just to be safe.
The doctor’s appointment didn’t last long. They did a urine sample, told Lucy’s parents to give her a baking soda bath that evening, and to send her back to school if she was feeling well enough to do so. Lucy returned to school that next day and within an hour her parents got a phone call from her pediatrician. They were told to quickly pick Lucy back up from school and rush her to the ER, stating Lucy had dangerously high sugar levels in her urine.
Lucy was rushed into a room where needles, medications, and doctors moved around her for the next 72 hours. Labs at the hospital confirmed her diagnosis – Type 1 Diabetes. The Kopp family stayed busy meeting with nutritionists, social workers, and doctors. They were being trained in the science of diabetes, and nurses were in and out of the room administering medication and prepping Lucy for her new normal. Their healthy, active 7-year-old, who they thought just had a UTI, now has a lifelong disease.
When they transitioned back home, the Kopp’s had a lot to adjust to – counting carbs, weighing food, and administering shots. Lucy’s Dexcom device monitors her blood sugar levels. If her blood sugar is too low,
Lucy needs to eat a fast-acting carb. If her blood sugar is too high, they administer a shot of
insulin. A difficult task for a kid who hated needles.
This journey is one that Lucy will continue to battle but has made her a new person. She says, “While it is scary at first, I have become brave and strong. I couldn’t do it without my parents and friends.” Lucy loves to visit the lake and the beach in the summer and hopes to have as many puppies as possible one day.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Dayton Dragons applaud all those who have been instrumental in Lucy’s life, including her family, Dr. Peiffer and her entire medical team.