A 13-year-old Kansas City boy battling an extremely rare blood disorder lived out his dreams by throwing the ceremonial first pitch at a Major League Baseball game 1,800 miles away.
Nick LeGrande delivered the pitch at Wednesday's Oakland A's-New York Yankees game without traveling too far from his medical team in Kansas City.
Nearly 40,000 fans cheered him on at Oakland's stadium before the A's took on the Yankees, one of Nick's favorite teams along with the Kansas City Royals.
He took the mound at 8:45 p.m. at Kansas City's Google Fiber Space's custom-built infield, complete with real dirt and real grass. His memorable pitch was shown on the big screen.
Google said this was the first time a robot had ever thrown out the first pitch at a professional game, landing Nick a spot in the record books along with whole set of amazing memories he'll never forget.
"I thank everybody who was a part of it and everybody that was here that cheered me on," Nick said.
The teen's baseball career was put on hold when he was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare disease that damages the bone marrow and blood stem cells. His mother said the only time he cried was when he learned his baseball playing days are over.
"Nick has a Superman complex. I say that because I don't know many adults who could go through what he has this year," Nick's father, Mike LeGrande, said. "His doctors at Children's Mercy are supportive through every aspect of his care, of course, but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this might be the best treatment yet."
Nick requires weekly infusions to counter the inability of his stem cells to generate mature blood cells.
"Nick has been through so much since his diagnosis in January," said Dr. Jaszianne Tolbert, a pediatric hematologist at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. "But he has such an amazing spirit and attitude about the whole thing. This experience couldn't happen to a more deserving young man and a bigger baseball fan."
She said it's been tough for her patient to go "from an athlete to a homebody."
Nick is having another bone marrow test to look for improvement after the Fourth of July, his family said.
"We are hoping for a home run. But we'd be so thankful for a base hit," Mike LeGrande said.
Nick's family hopes his story will inspire others to consider donating blood or bone marrow. Click here to learn how to help.
Doctors are searching for a match so they can give the teen a procedure that they believe will cure his disorder.
His family has been working on the surprise since March, with the hopes of it serving as a big moral boost for the teen. Tolbert concurred.
"I think that will be great for him. He hasn't been able to participate in as much activity as he would like," she said. "This will be great for him. Any little bit will help for him right now."
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