Davis pitches in to help others
Cancer survivor uses his foundation as a vehicle of support
John Barleycorn's pub, near Wrigley Field, had an unusual gathering following the Cubs vs. Diamondbacks game on the afternoon of Oct. 3.
Diamondbacks pitcher Doug Davis hosting a small gala to support teammate Dan Haren's Miracle League community program, which builds baseball fields for disabled children, and a slew of Cubs were in attendance to help. Pitchers Sean Marshall and Randy Wells, catcher Koyie Hill and second baseman Mike Fontenot drew additional fans to boost the support for Haren.
The event was part of the branching-out process of Davis' own foundation, which started after he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer prior to the start of the 2008 season. Cancer patients at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, children who want to play baseball despite having a disability in Scottsdale and others still to be touched are among the beneficiaries of Davis' momentary misfortune.
Now recovered, the left-hander is more determined than ever to use that experience to help others.
"Obviously, I got the thyroid cancer last year -- that started the 49 Fund [named after Davis' number]," he said. "I never even thought of [starting] a foundation. The Diamondbacks put the [49 Fund] together for me."
The fund helped raise $26,000 for the Comprehensive Cancer Center at St. Joseph's.
"After that, I got a lot of phone calls and e-mails from people who said I should start a foundation and raise money for people who are needy," Davis said. "Ever since then, we started it. We had a great golf outing which was pretty successful for the first year and are now branching out from there, [including] helping Danny with the Miracle League."
Davis wants to help the parents of children stricken with cancer as much as the kids themselves.
"You try to help the parents understand what the kids are going through," he said. "I think that's the hardest part. Sometimes the parents go through more than the actual [illness] with the kids. We try to help the parents psychologically."
Davis also wants to raise public awareness that, in the 21st century, cancer is not an automatic death sentence.
"Modern medicine is nothing like it was 30 years ago," he said. "There are a lot of cures for different kind of cancers. I was blessed to get the cancer that was most recoverable. I just took a pill. I didn't take any chemo. I was out 35 days and went right back to work. Now, I'm trying to branch out and try to get other people to understand."
Davis' advice to others afflicted with cancer is simple.
"You have to fight and not give up," he said. "Have the mentality of having a positive attitude all the time, and the people around you should be positive. Otherwise, you're going to bury yourself."
A byproduct of Davis' golf tourney came as a result of the participation of the Cubs lefty, Marshall, who lives in Phoenix during the offseason. He recruited his teammates to support Davis and Haren in Chicago.
"He's helped out tremendously," Davis said of Marshall. "For a guy to help out a player on a different team, that's tremendous."
Now, Davis aims to increase his own foundation's work to help children with medical, social and family needs, and his involvement won't stop at team boundaries.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.