Eric Wedge helps a friend in his efforts to strike out epilepsy
By Shannon Drayer
Toughness is a quality in ballplayers that Eric Wedge values above all else. The ability to “stick your nose in there” in an uncomfortable at bat, play through aches and pains, deal with the ups, downs and struggles a baseball season can bring all are things that he wants to see from his players on a daily basis. When he speaks of toughness there is appreciation and admiration in his voice. Baseball players are supposed to be tough. Men are supposed to be tough.
Sometimes 11-year-old girls and their families need to be tough. It takes a different kind of toughness to get through a day where you have hundreds of seizures. This is what 11-year-old Sarah Fradkin has to deal with.
Sarah was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 6 years old. She is one of over 3 million Americans with epilepsy and 50 million worldwide. Although there are over 500 new cases diagnosed daily in this country epilepsy research is grossly under-funded. In an attempt to raise awareness many in baseball have taken up the cause including Wedge.
“Once you get in to it, you start recognizing how much more common this is than people think, you wouldn’t even know,” said Wedge. “Then you think about a little girl that has to go through this each and every day and then you think about parents that have to see there little girl go through this and then you think about how much that is going on in the US and globally, it is something you have to raise awareness of.”
Sarah’s story isn’t one that was just recently brought to Wedge’s attention. Wedge has known Sarah’s parents for years. Her father David Fradkin was a college friend of former MLB pitcher Charles Nagy. David runs a small baseball apparel company and has met many throughout the game through Nagy. David has been tireless in his attempt to raise the awareness of epilepsy and has used his connections in baseball to further the cause.
“I knew David when Sara was born and you see how genuine everybody is in regarding to caring for David, caring for Sara, caring for the cause,” Wedge said. “His strength and consistency with his family is what sticks out to me. He is going after this like gangbusters. I appreciate that. I think that what he is doing here is really raising the bar for what they are trying to do with epilepsy.”
Watching his friend deal with this as a parent has hit close to home for Wedge.
“I never would have thought that you could have two or three hundred seizures a day and still function,” he said. “She has had these major surgeries where they have tried to pinpoint it so they can directly attack it and they haven’t been able to do it yet. It breaks my heart. I think of my children, Ava and Cash. I think about his wife and what they have to go through. I talk about mental toughness, think about the level of toughness you have to have as Sarah or a parent or sibling to deal with that daily. It breaks my heart so anything we can do we will.”
David has organized a walk for epilepsy as well as an auction to help S4 (Sarah & Southbury Strikeout Seizures) and CURE (Citizens United in Research for Epilepsy) in their quest to raise awareness and fund research for a cure. Many in baseball have contributed to the the auction which includes such items as tours and batting practice with various teams, lunch with Jim Thome, golf with Paul Molitor and Bert Blyleven, and much more.
Two big Mariners items are up for bid, a day at the park which will include taking batting practice in the cages against Carl Willis, being on field during batting practice, helping Wedge make out the lineup, picture with your favorite Mariner and more. The second Mariners package up for bid is a private pitching lesson with Felix Hernandez and Carl Willis. The silent auction runs online until June 26 and information can be found at http://www.s4epilepsywalk.com/. More information on epilepsy can be found at http://www.cureepilepsy.org/home.asp .