AKRON — On Friday, the Akron RubberDucks and Binghamton Rumble Ponies matched up in a doubleheader during the heat of the Eastern League playoff race. When the RubberDucks suited up for the second game, however, they donned a jersey designed by a young fan who has faced a far more significant battle.
Landon Skidmore is an 8-year-old student at Wadsworth’s Franklin Elementary whose love of baseball is surpassed only by his courage and perseverance. At the age of 4, he was thrown a curveball when he was diagnosed with a Wilms Tumor, a cancerous growth that starts in the kidneys.
After nine months of chemotherapy, however, Landon is doing much better and trying his hand at graphic design. After four painstaking days of work, he created the winning uniform in the RubberDucks’ annual contest as part of their Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders Celebration Event and Akron Children’s Hospital Home Run For Life.
“It’s just great to be able to celebrate here,” said Courtney Skidmore, Landon’s mother. “It’s overwhelming. We’ve come to the game the past several years, but this one’s special. He’s four years cancer-free, and we’re just blessed to be able to celebrate.”
Since Ken Babby took over as team owner in 2013, the event has become a yearly staple at Canal Park, raising awareness and celebrating all who have beaten cancer. The replica jersey component was introduced last season.
“It’s fabulous,” Babby said in regards to the jersey design. “What a great story, and tonight we will wear those jerseys proudly. They were created by (Landon Skidmore), and it’s a tremendous honor.”
Skidmore’s design features an array of white, orange and blue with the Akron Children’s Hospital and RubberDucks logos and inscriptions of “Cancer free!” on the front and “No one fights alone” on the back.
“It was my motto,” he said. “No one fights alone.”
The RubberDucks players were proud to wear Skidmore’s jersey and participate in all of the festivities.
“It shows we have an impact,” center fielder Greg Allen said. “A lot of our focus goes into what goes on between those lines in the field. To know that our roles as players and human beings are able to impact someone else’s life in a positive way means the most.”
In return for his hard work and journey back from illness, Skidmore received a finished product of his jersey autographed by every member of the roster.
“Just leave it all in God’s hands, pray and just stay positive,” Courtney Skidmore said.
Contact Jake Dungan at firstname.lastname@example.org.