Jason Motte has formed friendships through Strikeout Cancer foundation

Baseball As soon as he stepped out of his vehicle, the blood rushed from his body.Tim Nelson collapsed in his driveway into a pool of that blood. A neighbor called 911 and Nelson was rushed to a local hospital, where he was clinging to life. He had lost half his blood. MORE: Top moments in 2014 | Motte joins Cubs' bullpen | Cardinals to honor late Oscar TaverasNelson had been driving from his job in the west St. Louis suburb of Creve Coeur to Dupo, Ill., where he was the high school football coach. It was a Thursday and the Dupo Tigers were 4-4 with a game the following night that had playoff implications. Thursday’s practice was supposed to be just a walkthrough. Nelson started to experience severe stomach cramps. The pain worsened so Nelson called his defensive coordinator to tell him to run practice. When he got home and started to get out of his truck, he noticed the blood on the seat.Casey Nelson was less than six months removed from her wedding when she heard the devastating news. Doctors found two tomato-sized tumors in her husband’s rectum and a third tumor in his colon. “I was devastated,” Tim Nelson told Perform Media. “I couldn’t believe it. I was lying in the hospital bed thinking, ‘This is it.’“There were about 15 minutes of self-loathing, but then I wanted to be positive.”Following 28 chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Nelson had surgery to remove the tumors on Feb. 24, 2014. A week later, doctors told him he was cancer-free. From his diagnosis in October, the 6-2 Nelson had gone from weighing 300 pounds to 204 pounds. The sudden weight loss had left him “very frail and very sick.”JASON MOTTE'S STRIKEOUT CANCERA month before his granddaughter was to marry a major league baseball player, Lynn Doyle was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Through Doyle's treatment, Caitlin Doyle and Jason Motte saw how helpful and supportive the people at the clinic were, so they wanted to help as well.“They really helped us as we were going through that whole process,” said Motte, a 2003 draft pick of the Cardinals calle

d up from Triple-A Memphis in 2008. “They helped us and we were like, ‘What can we do to help?’ ”The Mottes, married in May 2010, raised money to help the Memphis clinic obtain blankets, wigs and other supplies. Lynn Doyle died on Dec. 26, 2011 — about two months after Motte helped the Cardinals win the World Series. That championship run delayed the planning for another fundraiser until late November. The first event was in the spring of 2012. It was called Strikeout Cancer with Jason Motte.“We didn’t just want to throw it together, ” Motte told Perform Media in a telephone interview. “We wanted to get it done right.”Motte’s efforts to battle cancer have grown immensely. He teamed with St. Louis T-shirt company 108stitches to create a Strikeout Cancer shirt. The original design was a “Day of the Dead” Sugarskull with Motte’s beard. But Motte saw a shirt with a backward K (the scorekeeping symbol for a called strikeout) on it and suggested adding the word “Cancer” beneath it. The idea was born in 2013 while Motte was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.Later that year, Motte visited many people stricken with cancer. Following those visits, Motte and the Cardinals organized a pediatric cancer awareness day on Sept. 23, 2013, to set aside 5,000 game tickets for $10 apiece, with $3 per ticket going to the Jason Motte Foundation. An additional 1,000 tickets were donated to pediatric cancer patients just released from the hospital.Pictures of the T-shirt started to float around social media and the demand for the shirts was increasing. What began as a simple idea to raise awareness by handing out a few hundred shirts has erupted into a campaign now supported by the Major League Baseball Players Association with players on every team now involved in the Strikeout Cancer movement.Proceeds from sales go to the Motte Foundation. With over 16,000 shirts sold, more than $105,000 was raised last year to support organizations like the American Cancer Society, the Jessie Rees Foundation, Susan G. Komen and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. There was an -wide Strikeout Cancer Day last Sept. 2.“It was really cool,” Motte said. “The server at '108' shut down three times that day because of all the traffic.“It went from thinking we’ll have a couple guys, maybe 10, to having a guy on every team and in every color. It’s been crazy and it all got started just because I was wearing the shirt around.“We never thought it was going to turn into this. We just wanted to help some people.”The shirts also include a quote from Roberto Clemente that says, "Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don't, then you are wasting your time on Earth."MORE: Classic photos of Roberto ClementeNELSON MEETS MOTTEOne of the people to post a picture of himself wearing a Strikeout Cancer shirt was Tim Nelson. He tweeted the picture, taken by his wife, and Motte retweeted it. Motte soon learned that Nelson was a football coach and told him that if he “ever needed anything,” to let him know.Although Motte and Nelson talked occasionally and texted often, they did not actually meet until Aug. 7 — on Nelson's 39th birthday — before the Cardinals beat the Red Sox, 5-2, on a Strikeout Cancer Night. Motte invited Nelson to Busch Stadium and the two talked in the dugout before Nelson had the honor of throwing out the first pitch.“We just clicked from the beginning,” Nelson said. “It’s more friendship and support than anything. It’s nice to have someone of his caliber care. It’s mind-boggling the compassion he and his wife have.”Motte attended practices that autumn at Calhoun High School in Hardin, Ill., where Nelson is now the defensive coordinator.“Tim inspires me to want to go out and do more, and I know he inspires those kids he coaches,” Motte said. “They see how strong he can be when going through something like this. They see that and know they can push it a little bit farther.“He’s definitely a strong guy and when you’re going through what he’s been going through, you have to be strong and stay positive.”CANCER RETURNSThree months after being told he was cancer-free, when his weight had returned to a healthy 240 pounds, doctors found cancerous nodules in Tim Nelson’s lungs. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.“I was obviously devastated after feeling like I had beaten it,” Nelson said. In the past 11 months, those 10 nodules in his lungs have been reduced to three through more chemo and radiation.“That’s been a positive thing for us, but I’m still not out of the woods," said Nelson, who has another scan this week.Nelson has decided to live every minute like it’s his last and has spoken to groups to encourage them to do the same. He preaches a message of not ignoring the signs. Two years before his near-death experience, he had similar stomach cramps, but figured it was just stress-related. “I was ignorant of the situation,” he said frankly.“You have to live for the days you have because nobody knows when their number is going to be called,” Nelson said. “When you’re faced with death, your perspective really changes.”While Motte and Nelson have become friends over the last year, Motte has also developed close relationships with others affected by cancer.“When it’s all said and done, I feel like I’ve been helped as well,” said Motte, who signed with the Cubs on Dec. 16. “It doesn’t matter what color uniform I have on. I’d rather people be a fan of me than of me the baseball player.”Nelson, a lifelong Cardinals fan, will still cheer for Motte even though he’s with the Cards' main rival. It’s what friends do.

By sh1