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‘What we live for:’ At spring training, Brewers hosted kids who battled back from health struggles

Data pix.

PHOENIX -- Every Major League baseball player dreams of being a big-league player as a kid, and before spring training was canceled due to the coronavirus, two Wisconsin kids got to live that dream.

"I didn't know what to expect," said Danielle Petersen, mother of Evan Petersen.

At 10 a.m. in Phoenix, 13-year-old Kayden Schmidt of Bayside and 10-year-old Evan Petersen of Oconto walked off the bus and into the Brewers spring training facility.

Kayden Schmidt

Kayden Schmidt

"I just knew we were taking a tour," said Kayden Schmidt.

There was a lot more than that in store!

"Enjoy!" said Brewers General Manager David Stearns. "It's a good day for it."

After a brief encounter with Stearns, Lorenzo Cain took them through the Brewers Clubhouse, and onto the field, where the introductions began.

Evan Petersen

Evan Petersen

"They asked me how old I am, and then like, what I like to do, and everything like that," said Evan Petersen.

It was an experience of a lifetime.

"I was just amazed that all these people were just like, there and they could talk to me," said Kayden Schmidt. "I was shocked."

It was also quite emotional.

"I started crying because it was so amazing how personable every one of those players were with the kids, and how down to earth they were," said Danielle Petersen.

Evan Petersen

What made it so special for Evan Petersen's mom was knowing the struggle her son endured with central nuclear myopathy, a form of muscular dystrophy.

"He finally went over the 40-pound mark, so that's huge for us, and we got leg braces, so we are walking a lot further and walking quite fast-ly now, so he continues to make strides, and baby steps mean a lot," said Danielle Petersen.

A difficult rotator cuff injury kept Kayden Schmidt away from sports.

"It was hard for, I think all of us, to just understand how much progress she needed to make in order to get back on the field, on the court, and be 100% in the game too," said Heidi Schmidt, Kayden's mother.

Aurora Health Care partnered with the Milwaukee Brewers to give them the opportunity to get onto the field and into the game.

"As competitive as she is, she wants to make sure she's giving that, throwing that ball as hard as she could at him, no matter who is catching it on the other end," said Heidi Schmidt.

"It was a great experience," said Josh Hader. "I mean, this is what we live for, just to spend some time with Kayden and Evan, really just to show them what we do here."

Kayden Schmidt

Evan and Kayden became Brewers for the day.

"For them to be part of the team, I mean, they have their own lockers down there," said Hader. "It was just a great experience for all of us."

"It was really cool because I got this jersey I'm wearing, and I got a locker next to all of the people," said Kayden Schmdit.

"It was amazing," said Evan Petersen. "I love playing baseball. I love the Brewers. It was just a good match."

It was a day everyone involved won't soon forget.

Evan Petersen and Kayden Schmidt

"Hader gave me his cleats from his locker, then signed them, and wrote a message to me," said Kayden Schmidt. "I though it was like, really cool. I have his cleats."

"Just to see the enjoyment on their faces, I mean, that's what it's about, honestly," said Hader.

Evan Petersen

Evan Petersen

"It's really cool, and I'm even surprised I have something like this, and this is actually happening," said Petersen.

"It was definitely special for me," said Cain. "Gave me goosebumps, man."

Evan Petersen and Kayden Schmidt found out at Brewers On Deck they'd be going to spring training. They also had the opportunity throw out the first pitch at the first Cactus League game.

Aurora and the Brewers paid for their trip.

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