PEORIA, Arizona — San Diego Padres players often visit pediatric patients at Rady Children’s Hospital.
But this year, it was the kids who made the trip to Peoria, Arizona, to meet the players in spring training, thanks to an invitation from their hometown heroes.
“We’re not just, you know, caged in a hospital … we can actually have fun,” 15-year-old Naylin Griffith told CBS News. Griffith was diagnosed with a brain tumor nearly two years ago and continues to battle its effects.
Children were treated like VIPs, with behind-the-scenes tours, autographs and selfies with star players like slugger Manny Machado.
“Meeting Manny, it was great,” said 17-year-old Damien Lopez, who has battled a blood disorder since birth, a condition that requires regular treatment.
However, it was pitcher Tim Hill who hit the biggest home run with the group, speaking candidly about his own battle with cancer.
“I dealt with the same, similar things that you all dealt with,” Hill told the children. “In 2015, I had colon cancer, stage 3 colon cancer.”
“It’s really inspiring,” Lopez said. “He beat cancer, and he’s still doing what he loves.”
Major-league treatment allowed these kids to just be kids.
“We’ve all been through a lot,” Griffith said. “So I think it’s really exciting to be able to come here and take a break from everything.”