Sometimes in life, you hear about stories that are much bigger than sports.
Health scares. Triumphant acts. Life or death situations. The beauty and pain that this world has to offer.
And sometimes, sports can be used as a vehicle for healing and unity in the midst of tough situations.
Brodie Mitchell is a die-hard Cubs fan. He’s about to be a senior at Southmont High School, and he’s gone through a lot in his life. Recently, Brodie was diagnosed with a brain tumor. With numerous outcomes of his surgery as a possibility, and a whole lot of uncertainty, the community of Montgomery County came together to pray for Brodie at Pike Place in downtown Crawfordsville. Kids and adults of all ages joined together to lift Brodie and his family up. Brodie also has received a lot of support from the golf team, former basketball teammates, and friends from school.
As he has done his entire life, Brodie faced his latest challenge with faith and strength. He never complained. He never cried. One of the nurses actually told his family, “I’ve never seen a calmer patient.” He wore one of his favorite Cubs shirts back to surgery, and all anyone could do was wait, hope, and pray.
After Brodie’s surgery, nobody knew if he would be able to speak. They didn’t know if he would remember anything. They didn’t know what to expect. Much to his family’s surprise, he began to speak shortly after waking up. His first words were “ESPN, 39.” He remembered the channel on the hospital’s TV and wanted to watch ESPN. Shortly after that, after seeing some news on his beloved Cubbies, he said the words- “Cool. The Cubs signed Kimbrel.”
I can’t imagine the joy his family must’ve had in those moments.
Around the same time as Brodie’s surgery, Cubs first-baseman Anthony Rizzo had a charity event at the Knickerbocker hotel in Chicago. Rizzo is a cancer survivor and he’s done some amazing work with his foundation over the years. A family friend of Brodie’s was in attendance at this event, and she brought a picture of Brodie with her. She didn’t have any expectations for the photo, but just wanted Brodie to know she was thinking about him. Anthony Rizzo saw her holding the photo, and he wanted to know Brodie’s story. After hearing about the surgery, Rizzo asked, “So how is he doing now?” The family friend said she was so impressed by how much Rizzo cared about someone he had never met. Rizzo then asked to take a photo with Brodie’s picture and sent prayers and well-wishes his way.
Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri sent Brodie a signed football that said “Stay strong Brodie.” It’s another example of how sports can bring perspective and healing to people when they need it the most.
Not only has Brodie never complained, but he has still thought of others during this difficult time. That’s the kind of person he is. Instead of getting shirts or making slogans that said “Brodie Strong”, or “Praying for Brodie”, or anything with his name on it, he wanted something that could raise awareness for others who were struggling with the same thing. “What about all of the other people that have brain tumors too?”, he asked. So it was decided that they would use the slogan “Team Tumornator.” Team Tumornator was successful in their mission, and it is my hope that Brodie’s story can inspire many people. Brodie’s mother said that each prayer has been answered, one at a time, and even the doctor’s couldn’t explain the success of certain elements of his surgery and recovery.
After a long week and a half in the hospital, Brodie was able to go home on Wednesday evening. His family has been overwhelmed by the support from friends, family, and even from a few of Brodie’s favorite athletes. You can join a great cause by donating to the “Be Hope Now” Campaign with Riley Hospital, which can be found at http://www.rileykids.org/bethehopenow/.
Keep getting stronger every day, Brodie. Thank you for inspiring us. #TeamTumornator
Tyler Smith is the Youth Pastor of New Hope Christian Church and runs the website Indy Sports Legends.