TRUSSVILLE, Alabama – Parents and players hear the words “play ball” before every little league game. Although routine to some, those words hold a dear place for the Barksdale and Moultrie families in Trussville. Their sons, Trevor Moultrie and Andrew Barksdale are both 7-year-old cancer survivors who played this season at the Trussville Baseball Park. Although they were on different teams, the two share a special bond — on and off the field.
“We have known each other for a long time and we had cancer together,” said Trevor Moultrie when asked to describe his friendship with Andrew Barksdale.
Trevor recalled his first year playing when he was catching behind home plate and Andrew came up to bat.
“I think I said hi Andrew, and then we played in the park after the game,” he said.
Andrew remembered the encounter as well.
“After the game we said, ‘good game’ to each other and played,” he said.
Throughout the year, the pair would go to the ballpark and cheer one another on, during practice and games.
The boys’ mothers, Sherri Moultrie and Holly Barksdale, met after striking up a conversation in a waiting room at Children’s of Alabama. They learned that they lived only a mile away from each other in Trussville, and began what they described as an instant “family-like” relationship.
Their sons were both diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) as toddlers, and Sherri and Holly say they supported one another and depended on one another through countless trips to the clinic and hospital.
“We kept in touch by text and social media,” Sherri Moultrie said. They would often send a word of encouragement or ask a question about what the boys were experiencing during treatment.
“We often understood each other better than our own families as they struggled with good and bad days,” Barksdale said.
Both Andrew and Trevor are healthy today and still share a love of baseball. Thursday, as the mothers watched their boys play catch, they still wince as they fall down or have a ball bounce out of their gloves, but they are keenly aware of the miracle of “small things.”
“They are little miracles,” Barksdale said of the boys.
On Sunday, June 8, 2014, Children’s of Alabama will host a baseball party for childhood cancer survivors. More than 300 are expected to attend the private event that will celebrate with their families.
According to Children’s of Alabama, every year 150 Alabama children are diagnosed with cancer.
“It’s a life-changing diagnosis that is devastating to the family and is the first step of a grueling treatment journey,” said Kathy Bowers with Children’s of Alabama.
Thankfully, thanks to research, development and donations, 80 percent of the children diagnosed with cancer today are expected to survive — that’s up from 50 percent just two decades ago.