It may be National Signing Day, but one of the biggest college acquisitions occurred in late-January when 12-year-old Aiden Taylor signed on with the Rhodes College baseball team.
A tween committing already? You bet. Aiden was diagnosed with metastatic medulloblastoma in 2014. He went into remission, but the cancer returned recently, meaning he’ll be receiving treatment at nearby St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. As he and his family wait for the FDA to approve a new treatment trial, Aiden will be knee-deep in college baseball and bonding with his new teammates.
On signing day, Aiden inked the necessary paperwork, delivered “Aiden’s Avengers” bracelets to the team, participated in batting practice, tossed the first pitch and granted interviews to the media.
But, that was just the start of many things to come.
This opportunity was made possible by the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation (FOJ), which aims to improve the quality of life for kids and families affected by pediatric brain cancer by pairing children and their siblings with high school and college sports teams.
“The collaboration with Aiden, his family, and Friends of Jaclyn really gives our team perspective and helps them understand that life is more than one exam or one baseball game,” said Jeff Cleanthes, head baseball coach and director of athletics at Rhodes. “This will give Aiden 42 more best buds to help motivate him in his extremely tough situation.”
And, his new teammates are just as excited.
“It’s a special day because we love what we do…and it’s special to share our passion with Aiden over here and let him be a part of our team,” Carter King, a Rhodes College baseball player, told WMC Action News 5.
It will no doubt be a busy spring for Aiden and his family, but with plenty of baseball on the horizon, it’s a future worth smiling about.