Maggie Russo’s first pitch against cancer
by Chase Collum
Aug 04, 2014 | 933 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At six years old, Maggie Russo has already had to face one tough battle: The fight against cancer. And she kicked its butt. To celebrate that feat, the Brooklyn Cyclones invited Maggie to throw out the first pitch at their July 26th home game.

“My daughter had cancer when she was younger, and we got involved with Barbara Zobian of Candlelighters,” explained Maggie’s mother, Marybeth, from a catered VIP box along the third base line. “She sent out a message a while ago looking for children who were undergoing treatment who would be interested in going to one of the baseball games, so we forwarded it to friends, but we didn’t think anything of it for ourselves because Maggie’s healthy.

“Then we got a late night text from her last week and she said, 'I hear Maggie’s a baseball fan.'” she added. “So I called her back and she said, 'let’s celebrate healthy.' Maggie’s a fan, this opportunity was made for her.”

The pitch signaled the start of the evening’s game against the Vermont Lake Monsters (which the Cyclones won 3-2), as well as an evening of fundraising by the family-owned and operated Columbia Utilities and its partner, the American Childhood Cancer Organization.

“We have been looking for ways to expand our partnership with ACCO, and as a Brooklyn native, partnering with a family-friendly organization like the Brooklyn Cyclones to get the word out about ACCO’s work and mission seemed like a natural fit,” said Robert Palmese, president of Columbia Utilities.

Marybeth said that she credits some of her daughter’s enthusiasm for baseball to the Cyclone’s kindness towards Maggie through the years since attending her first game when she was only five months old.

“The Cyclones were very good to her when she was sick. They hold a BBQ every year for season ticket holders, and [at one of the barbecues], Maggie was neutropenic that day and we didn’t realize it,” Marybeth said. “She spiked a fever, threw up at the barbecue right before they got a chance to go on the field and bat.

“She was in the hospital for three weeks,” she added. “As soon as she came out, the guy that plays Sandy, he had arranged everything and had us back on the field for our own private pitch and hit, and had a whole day just with her.”

“We pride ourselves on being more than a baseball team,” said Cyclones vice president Steve Cohen. “We strive to be leaders in the Brooklyn community. That means working with organizations like Columbia Utilities and ACCO to help raise their profile while also raising money for a great cause like the fight against childhood cancer.”

For Maggie’s father Mike, who plays ball with her regularly, seeing his daughter on the mound was a very proud moment.

“The last time she wanted to get out on the field, she got sick for three weeks, so to see her out there on that mound it’s like it has come full-circle,” he said. “She’s happy, she’s healthy, she’s independent. She’s a regular six-year-old girl.”

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