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The Champ

Kevin Eadie, 11, a batboy for the Peninsula Pilots since 2002, suffers from Niemann-Pick Type C, a fatal disease that affects speech, balance and cognitive abilities.
Kevin Eadie, 11, a batboy for the Peninsula Pilots since 2002, suffers from Niemann-Pick Type C, a fatal disease that affects speech, balance and cognitive abilities. (By Lisa Billings For The Washington Post)

In first grade, his teacher taught him how to run his hand along the wall in the school's hallways to help him keep his balance.

In second grade, his fine motor skills deteriorated, slowly making it more and more difficult to write.

In third grade, he needed a full-time aide and did his work, with her help, on a computer.

In fourth grade, his ability to walk began to decline notably.

And on the last day of fifth grade, he had his first seizure.

Along the way, Kevin also lost something else. Kevin got his first T-ball set when he was 2. When he was old enough, he joined the local league with his friends. Baseball was his passion. He loved going to Norfolk Tides games with his father. He told his parents he wanted to be a major league player when he grew up.

By 8, though, he no longer had the coordination to play organized ball. It was a terrible blow.

But then, in a most unexpected twist, baseball's magic found its way back into this little boy's life.

* * *

People deal with horrific circumstances in dramatically different ways. Each has his or her own coping mechanism; outsiders often can't understand them. But what if it were your child? Your baby? Is it best to accept the inevitable? Or is that giving up? Is fighting what the scientific community calls a hopeless cause righteous, or is it denial?

When the doctor told Brenda and Bob Eadie that the recommended "treatment" was merely to "go home and enjoy what time you have with your child," she rebelled. Brenda spent every free hour researching the disease, writing letters to celebrities begging them to promote the disease, trying to raise money for the National Niemann-Pick Foundation. She converted the family to vegetarianism, hoping that would help hold down Kevin's cholesterol. She angled for months to have Kevin included in a drug trial, only to see him start to waste away, stricken with horrible bouts of diarrhea. She turned to alternative and holistic healers -- at one point flying Kevin to Hawaii for a series of Botox shots in hopes they would reduce the dystonia that causes his feet to curve inward, his wrists to curl.

She traffics in hope. At some point, they have to find a cure. Why not in time for her son?


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