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The Dayton Dragons and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield have been partnering since 2004 to bring Dragons fans the heartwarming Home Run for Life program. Each season, Anthem and the Dragons recognize brave children who, with the help of their families, physicians and health care team, are presently battling or have successfully overcome significant medical events in their young life.

Home Run for Life events are promoted in advance through newspaper ads, radio spots and the Dragons game program, PlayBall!  A personalized newspaper ad in the Dayton Daily News tells each honoree's story a few days prior to their event. The honoree also records their own radio spot telling their story. And the honoree's photo and story are featured on the fold-out inside front cover of the complimentary PlayBall! game program handed out to all 8,000+ attendees on the night of their Home Run for Life.

During each Home Run for Life, Anthem hosts the honoree and his/her support team of family, friends, doctors, and Anthem representatives in a luxury suite. The honoree gets VIP treatment including Dragons souvenirs, a chance to meet and get autographs from Dragons players, and a behind-the-scenes stadium tour.

Each honoree is recognized on the field during an inning break. The honoree, their family and support team are taken onto the field and the honoree gets to take a symbolic lap around the bases to a standing ovation from the crowd.

HRFL #1 - Mason Moeller (May 8, 2019)

In November of 2014, Mason Moeller's mom, Lisa, arrived home to be met with a concerned babysitter. Mason had slight congestion which developed into severe fatigue, labored breathing and excessive vomiting as the night went on. The next morning, Lisa and Mason's dad, Kevin, drove a very tired 15-month-old Mason to their family doctor. What seemed like an ordinary trip to the pediatrician, turned the Moeller family's life completely upside down.

Because of Mason's condition, doctors immediately transferred him to the ER. After many failed IV attempts, doctors performed an intraosseous infusion (I.O.); a procedure where doctors drill the medication directly into the bone marrow of the shin. Mason's parents soon learned he was in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and had type 1 diabetes. The next 24 hours are difficult. Giving too much medication to bring Mason out of DKA could result in brain damage; not giving enough medication could result in death.

According to doctors, Mason had picked up a common childhood virus. Typically, antibodies will fight off the illness however Mason's body mistakenly fought off the insulin-producing beta cells in his pancreas destroying them. This kickstarted a sudden onset of type 1 diabetes symptoms. Now unable to produce insulin on his own, Mason will have to wear an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor for the rest of his life.

Even with all the advances in blood sugar monitoring and insulin delivery, it can still be a challenge for Mason. "Having type 1 diabetes makes me nervous because if I don't regularly check my blood sugar, I could get really sick. But it makes me, and my mom and dad happy when we see clear results."

Today, Mason is a spunky little 5-year-old and a preschooler at Anna Elementary. Mason loves eating ice cream and wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. Though he is young, Mason is well educated in the technology and necessities that come along with type 1 diabetes.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Dayton Dragons applaud all those who have been instrumental in Mason's life, including his parents Kevin and Lisa, siblings Brea and Tucker, Dr. Pfeifer, and his entire medical team. Please join us in cheering on Mason as he completes his Home Run for Life at Fifth Third Field on May 8.

HRFL #2 - Charlotte Caraway (May 29, 2019)

In March of 2014, Charlotte Caraway was born seemingly a healthy baby. Mom and Dad, Stephanie and Matt, brought baby Charlotte home to be met with three very excited older sisters. It was at her 15-month check-up that doctors saw that Charlotte was losing weight and her abdomen distended and hard. Because of that and a few other symptoms, doctors recommended her to go through imaging. The results came back, and the Caraway family was transferred directly to the ER.

It was in the ER when Stephanie and Matt learned about the tumors on Charlotte's kidneys. Coincidentally, a member from the National Wilms Tumor Board was at the hospital that night and knew exactly what doctors were looking at. In June of 2015, Charlotte was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor and scheduled to start treatment a week later.

Wilms tumor is the most common type of childhood cancer that starts in the kidneys. While these tumors are most often occurring in just one kidney, Charlotte was bilateral meaning both of her kidneys were affected by this cancer. Through her chemotherapy treatment, the tumors began to shrink, and in October of 2015, Charlotte was able to go through surgery to remove the tumors and parts of her kidney.

For nine months, Charlotte had no evidence of disease. That was until November of 2016, when doctors had found a relapse in the cancer cells and spots forming on her kidneys again. This kick started a vicious 12-month cycle of chemotherapy, but as Thanksgiving of 2017 approached, scans were cancer free. Knowing life is unpredictable, Charlotte says, "Each time I go to the doctor's office, I am nervous that they will find cancer again. But I try to stay strong for my parents and my sisters."

Today, Charlotte is a fierce 5-year-old and a preschooler at Memorial Presbyterian. Charlotte loves being active outdoors and cannot wait to spend time with mom this summer planting flowers.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Dayton Dragons applaud all those who have been instrumental in Charlotte's life, including her parents Stephanie and Matt, siblings Elizabeth, Catherine and Caroline, Dr. Wright, and her entire medical team. Please join us in cheering on Charlotte as she completes her Home Run for Life at Fifth Third Field on May 29.

HRFL #3 - William McCoy (June 12, 2019)

When William McCoy III's mom, Donna, tested positive for sickle cell trait, she and her husband, William, were in disbelief. Not only had she lived her entire life not knowing, but she was pregnant with a little baby boy. Because of this new information, their child would have a one in four chance of not just carrying the trait, but living a life affected by sickle cell.

When their son William III was born, their worst fears were confirmed. After the newborn screenings showed positive signs for the sickle cell gene, their needs for medical care increased drastically. Donna and William II were currently living in Wyoming but had to drive two hours to the nearest pediatric hospital. The frustrations of not having immediate care for their son led to the decision of relocating to Ohio. William II's family was in the area and the opportunities for their son were limitless.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder in which red blood cells (which are normally round and flexible) are sticky, hard, and shaped like crescent moons. Because of sickle cell, William's immune system cannot handle as much as a normal person. He has to make every effort to stay healthy because the even slightest fever can land him in a life-threatening position.

Educating the community is a very important aspect when battling sickle cell. Because it is not a visual impairment, a person may look very healthy to the average eye. But in fact, that seemingly healthy person could be fighting a disease like sickle cell. The McCoy's arrange doctor visits for his classrooms, so his teacher and classmates are educated in the severity of this illness.

Today, William is a creative and ambitious nine-year-old in the third grade at Pathway School of Discovery. This future comic book writer aims at bringing joy to readers and believes that sickle cell is "is a part of everyone's lives, but it should not stop you from fulfilling your dreams."
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Dayton Dragons applaud all those who have been instrumental in William's lives, including his parents Donna and William II and specialist Dr. Dole. Please join us in cheering him on as he completes his Anthem Home Run for Life at Fifth Third Field on June 12.

HRFL #4 - Levi Suttles (July 3, 2019)

It was the spring of 2018 when Levi Suttles was taken to the urgent care for an ear infection. While Levi's parents, Kristen and Chad, thought he had only a minor illness, doctors sent the family to the pediatric hospital for recommended blood testing. Remembering that Chad's brother was a leukemia survivor, Levi's parents sat in the hospital waiting room for an hour; their fears building that their son too might have cancer. 
Results came back from the blood tests and their fears confirmed. On March 5, 2018, Levi was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL.) Levi was immediately transferred to the hospital where he underwent a blood platelet transfusion, a spinal tap, a PICC line and a port installation. 

ALL is an aggressive type of cancer that starts from the lymphocytes in the bone marrow. The cancer develops early in the white blood cells and the cells quickly invade the blood stream moving throughout the body.
Levi's chemotherapy so aggressive that the medicine quickly weakened the muscles and nerves in his body. In January of 2019, Levi lost the ability to walk, but with the help of the doctors, support of his parents, and his own courage, he was able to regain his strength just four months later.

Since April 4, Levi has no evidence of disease and is in the remission stage of his journey. While his story is filled with needles and chemotherapy, what Levi remembers is the good times-¬ foam sword fights, Nerf gun wars, and his 'engagement' to his nurse! Though he is young, Levi believes that "having ALL has made him strong. Strong enough to kick cancer's butt."

Levi is heading into the first grade at Miami View Elementary in the fall, and he is most excited to visit the zoo this summer with his family.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Dayton Dragons applaud all those who have been instrumental in Levi's life, including his parents Kristen and Chad, his sister Madison, Dr. Wright and his entire medical team. Please join us in cheering on Levi as he completes his Home Run for Life at Fifth Third Field on July 3.

HRFL #5 - Bailey Stager (July 31, 2019)

October 26, 2011 was an unforgettable day in the Stager house. Chris, Bailey's father, found Bailey experience her first seizure. Fearful for their daughter's life, Chris and Bailey's mom, Kristy, immediately drove to the closest medical center in Troy. 

Bailey was admitted with a fever of 107.1 degrees. Doctors proceeded with a spinal tap but soon requested Bailey be transferred to a hospital that could provide primary care. Before the one-year-old even left the medical center, Bailey closed her eyes and slipped into a coma that lasted several days. After arriving at the hospital, the Stagers were moved into a trauma room. Nearly 20 different doctors and nurses rushed to take care of baby Bailey, puzzled by her condition. 

Six days into Bailey's coma, doctors found the virus HHV6- Human Herpes Virus 6. They believed this virus kickstarted Bailey's seizure causing brain damage. This process resulted in the diagnosis of Acute Necrotizing Encephalopathy of Childhood (ANEC). 

ANEC is an incredibly rare and rapidly progressive brain damaging disease that affects infants and children. The disease is relatively new with a poor prognosis of high mortality rates and severe neurological damage. 

Seven days after Bailey went into her coma, she awoke surrounded by her family, friends and caretakers. As days and weeks past, Bailey became more self-sufficient. She is an anomaly- with only seven cases reported in the United States at the time, Bailey was the first surviving child to endure this journey. 

For the past eight years, Bailey has attended physical, occupational, and speech therapies trying to fine tune her motor skills. She has seen major improvements in her movement and comprehension abilities. Today, she is headed into the third grade at Cookson Elementary. 

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Dayton Dragons applaud all those who have been instrumental in Bailey's life, including her parents Kristy and Chris, her brother JD, Dr. Lacey and her entire medial team. Please join us in cheering on Bailey as she completes her Home Run for Life at Fifth Third Field on July 31. 

For more information on the Home Run for Life program, please contact Brittany Snyder at [email protected].