Lakeland Little League community aims to strike out cancer

Lakeland Little League 10u players Charlie Dietz (left) and Jason Patterson. Charlie’s mother, Kim, and Jason’s dad, Jim, are both undergoing cancer treatment and were presented Saturday with a gift from fundraising done by the league’s community.

Lakeland Little League participants and supporters rallied around two parents who find themselves battling cancer again.

The result was the Strike Out Cancer drive that culminated with a presentation to Kim Patterson and Jim Dietz, who both have sons on the league’s 10u travel baseball team.

Patterson and Dietz were presented at the start of the Scott Schumacher Memorial Day Tournament Saturday with the proceeds of fundraising that took place over the last couple of weeks. Lakeland President Frank Gagliardi made the presentation.

Gagliardi pointed out the Memorial Day travel team tournament was named for former Lakeland LL leader Schumacher who died of cancer in 2015. Last year the league donated proceeds of a fundraising effort to his family and now this year efforts were aimed at the Dietz and Patterson families.

“It’s pretty substantial for something that started not too long ago,” Gagliardi said of the $6,000 raised in about 10 days through business and individuals sponsorship and t-shirt sales.

Patterson, who has been battling cancer since 2014 said she was touched by the presentation Saturday.

“It was very emotional, a touching moment,” said Patterson, whose son, Jason, is on the 10u travel team. “I’m very proud to be part of the organization.”

Dietz said he also was surprised and touched by the gift. Dietz has recently had to undergo treatment again for a post transplant cancer that has cropped up following his lung transplant. He is one of the coaches of the 10u team, which his son Charlie plays for, but recovery means he sometimes has to limit his activities and the possibility of contact with people with illnesses. He was watching Saturday’s first game of the season from under a shade canopy outside the center field fence.

All the Lakeland teams in the tournament were sporting red “K  Cancer” shirts as part of their uniforms Saturday. Similar t-shirts also were available for sale as a fundraiser.

Both Patterson and Dietz expressed a positive attitude about the medical challenges they face.

Patterson said she stays busy and keeps fighting and always stays positive.

Said Dietz: “Hopefully, I plan to be in remission soon and just in observation mode.”

Here are the major sponsors of the effort.


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