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MADISON, Ala. – When the Bob Jones Patriots recently hosted Spain Park, you knew this was more than a softball game. You could see it on the player’s jerseys, their socks, and their ribbons. They were wearing the colors of cancer.

Bob Jones coach Whitney Deaver’s mom, Brenda elder, died in January of a rare form of gynecological cancer. Whitney decided, “We need to do something to raise awareness for all cancers.”

She put together a game to strike out cancer. And wore colors for her mom, as well as her mother-in-law. “I had pink sleeves and then the purple for mom,” she told me.

The girls were laying for someone important in their lives. “We wanted everybody to honor who they wanted to honor that was dealing with cancer, whatever type of cancer it might be,” Deaver said.

They release balloons that flew toward the heavens honoring loved ones who’ve finished their battles or are still in the game. Coach Deaver’s dad, Rick, threw out the first pitch.

The money raised is going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “That was mom’s favorite fundraiser,” she told me.

Even when she was fighting her own battle, she made sure her family didn’t forget the kids. “I remember her saying, have we made our donation to St. Jude this year? And I was like, we’ll take care of that. You just need to focus on your health. You just try to be better because she was worried about it up until the day she died,” Deaver said.

Brenda Elder loved softball. “A lot of her friends were there, our family, so everybody coming out to show their support of mom, I think would have meant a lot to her,” Whitney said with a smile.

Deaver says her mother often reminded her, “Enjoy the game. Have fun and there are bigger things than softball.” And on this night, those words were never more true. “It was more about cancer than it was winning or losing,” she added.

Life sometimes changes your game plan. “This year has been very different for me because I have a different outlook on things after going through everything with mom,” Deaver told me.

She focused on helping her mom fight cancer, hoping for some extra innings. And helping her players to just have fun. She said, “They’re lucky to get out there and play the game that they love and be alive and have fun and I don’t want to take that way from any kid.”

Whitney Deaver knows her mom is close by. When I asked her what her mom would say about the game, she fought back tears telling me, “I think she would be so excited about how much money we raised for St. Jude. I mean, she loved coming to Bob Jones softball games. She used to love softball, and she probably would just say, good job.”

On game day, Whitney got a sign when she picked up her daughter from day care. “And as I was talking about the game for my mom, there was a red bird right there so, um, I know she was,” she said choking up. I looked at her and finished her sentence for her. “She was there,” I said. Whitney smiled and said, “She was there” as she wiped away her tears.

She was no doubt, watching from the ultimate upper deck. When the final out was made, the score didn’t matter. The players walked off the field with dream of someday beating all cancers. That makes everyone a winner.