Little league teams help youngster recovering from brain tumor

Published 10:17 am Friday, May 26, 2017

From morning to early evening this past Sunday, little league teams in the area played baseball in a way that was more than just a game. They were playing in a tournament that would help Joseph Tyler Holland of Franklin.

J.T. Holland, center in blue cap, is flanked by fellow players before the start of their game on Sunday morning on the Windsor Athletic Association fields.

The story actually begins when the 11-year-old came home after school on Feb. 24. Sara Holland, his mother, saw that the boy’s eyes were crossing. Thinking it might be a case of lazy eye, she took him to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk. One test led to another, including a CT scan, and around 2:30 the next morning, they were told he has a reportedly rare form of cancer, a Germinoma brain tumor.

A student at Riverdale Elementary, J.T. said he doesn’t remember when the news was delivered, but said the worst part of it all so far as been all the pills he’s needed to swallow.

To date, the boy has undergone three surgeries as well as recently finishing his third round of chemotherapy, which kept him out of school for a couple of weeks. There’s still radiation treatments to follow. Meanwhile, he was back in classes starting on Monday.

“His teachers said he’s been in great spirits,” said Sara.

Indeed, J.T. was with his family, including father Joseph, at the Windsor Athletic Association. Siblings are Katelyn and Jake.

The boy was invited to throw the first pitch, which he ably did from the mound with coaches and fellow players surrounding him. Afterward, J.T. could be seen walking and playing around the ball fields and playground with friends. Although he used to play T-ball and travel ball, the boy had stopped participating in games even before the diagnosis.

Information at states that germinomas are very rare, but also are cured in more than 90 percent of cases.

Still, there’s a matter of medical bills to pay, and that’s where the WAA comes into play.

Coach Mitchell Goodman learned of the boy’s ordeal about a month and a half ago via Facebook.

“It’s definitely humbling,” he said on Sunday morning. “I didn’t know the family and only met them the first time today.” But Goodman and Coach Richie Coyle were moved by the situation enough to promote the idea that any monies raised from the pre-planned tournament would help with the Holland.

Sara reported on Thursday that she’s learned about $5,500 was raised by the tournament and another $570 in sale of T-shirts. Not incidentally, the family had also been helped by money raised during the annual St. Baldrick’s Day at Fred’s Restaurant on March 18.