Life is much bigger than sports. Health scares. Transcendent acts of human kindness, or perhaps the other end of the spectrum. There is so much beauty and pain that this world has to offer.
Sometimes, though, sports can be used as a vehicle for healing and unity in the midst of tough situations.
Meet Brodie Mitchell, a die-hard Cubs fan who’s about to be a senior at Southmont High School near Crawfordsville, Indiana. He’s been through a lot in his life, but he’s been the definition of strength. When Brodie was diagnosed with a brain tumor, his community in Montgomery County came together to support him.
The success of his surgery and recovery were anything but assured, but Brodie faced his latest challenge with the same faith and strength that accompanied him in all aspects of life. He never complained, never cried. One of the nurses actually told his family she’d never seen a calmer patient. He wore one of his favorite Cubs shirts back to surgery, and all anyone could do was wait, hope, and pray.
After Brodie’s surgery, nobody knew if he would even be able to speak. They didn’t know if he would remember anything. Much to his family’s surprise, he began to speak shortly after waking up. His first words were, “ESPN, 39.” He remembered the channel on the hospital’s TV and wanted to catch up on the day’s sports action.
“Cool. The Cubs signed Kimbrel,” Brodie said after seeing the big news of the day.
Though the Kimbrel signing had excited Cubs fan everywhere, it brought even more to the Mitchell family the moment Brodie found out and verbalized it.
Around the same time as Brodie’s surgery, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo had a charity event at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Chicago. As most fans know, Rizzo is a cancer survivor and he’s done some amazing work with his foundation over the years. A family friend of Brodie’s was in attendance at this event and she brought a picture of Brodie with her. She didn’t have any expectations, but just wanted Brodie to know she was thinking about him.
Rizzo saw her holding the photo and he wanted to know the story behind it. After hearing about the surgery, Rizzo asked how Brodie was doing and then requested that they take a photo with Brodie’s picture as he sent prayers and well-wishes his way. The family friend was impressed by how much Rizzo cared about someone he had never met.
Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri sent Brodie a signed football that said “Stay strong Brodie.” A picture or an autograph may be small gestures in the grand scheme, but they’re examples of how sports can bring perspective and healing to people when they need it the most.
Not only has Brodie never complained, but he has still thought of others during this difficult time. That’s the kind of person he is. Instead of getting shirts or making slogans that said “Brodie Strong”, or “Praying for Brodie”, or anything with his name on it, he wanted to raise awareness for others who were struggling with the same thing.
“What about all of the other people that have brain tumors too?” he asked.
So it was decided that they would use the slogan “Team Tumornator” as they seek to raise both money and awareness for others who are going through some of the same issues Brodie is fighting. It is my hope that Brodie’s story can inspire many people and if you’re one of those, you can join a great cause by donating to the “Be Hope Now” campaign with Riley Hospital .
Brodie’s mother said that each prayer has been answered, one at a time, and even the doctors couldn’t explain the success of certain elements of his surgery and recovery. After a long week and a half in the hospital, Brodie was able to go home last Wednesday evening. His family has been overwhelmed by the support from friends, family, and even a few of Brodie’s favorite athletes.
Keep getting stronger every day, Brodie. Thank you for inspiring us. Cubs fans everywhere are pulling for you. #TeamTumornator