MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Brewers‘ Ryan Braun was in Kansas City Monday, July 9th where he’ll represent the Brew Crew in the All-Star game Tuesday. But part of him remains with a boy he met last week, who has the heart of a champ, even as he waits for a heart transplant.
Not every 12-year-old kid gets to meet Brewers’ All-Star Ryan Braun and ride on his shoulders! Or, tell the reigning MVP how to become a better player.
“It’s awesome man! He’s giving me some pointers — talking to me about my swing. Giving me some ideas on how I can get better defensively, and just improve my overall athleticism, so it’s just been fun to have him around,” Braun said.
Blake Parker is not your typical 12-year-old boy.
“He was born with only half a heart. He spent the first six months of his life at Children’s. He’s had nine open heart surgeries, and he’s been on a waiting list now for 16 months,” Blake’s father, Jeff Parker said.
Blake Parker has spent so much time in the hospital that his father was given a job there in the custodial department.
Blake may have half a heart, but what Blake has is as big as Miller Park. His indomitable spirit lifts up everybody who meets him, from Brewers players to those who love him most.
“It gives me all the energy in the world. It’s all the reason why I keep going everyday is because of him,” Jeff Parker said.
“I’m so thankful. I’ve been through a lot of things, but it makes me, everyday, thankful for the things that I have and the things that I’m going through are not that bad when you see him through all of this, and he’s still as happy as all get-out,”Blake’s brother, Jake Richards said.
“I’m very proud of him. I’m so excited for him. It’s very cool to be a part of this, but I’m more excited just for him and seeing him go through all of this. He was having a rough day after coming home from the hospital today, but after seeing Braun in that locker room, his spirits changed and he just got bright,” Richards said.
What made last Monday’s visit with the Brewers so special is that barring a miracle, Blake’s time appears to be limited. But for one night, Blake felt as though he could conquer the world.
“It’s been a very difficult year for us. This may be his last year with us,” Blake’s mother said.
He was able to throw out the first pitch at the Brewers game. He also got to hang out with Bob Uecker in the broadcast booth and saw the Brewers rally for a big win.
Blake’s mom and dad put it best…
“It’s everything to him. This is just living a dream for him,” Jeff Parker said.
“It brings tears to my eyes,” Blake’s mother said.
Reality set in the next day, when Blake and his family were back at the hospital, but Blake’s spirits were soaring, and he still had his batting gloves on.
Those who heard last Monday night’s Brewers radio broadcast say Uecker never sounded better than when he had Blake at his side in the booth.