West High Baseball team helps Wichita family through loss
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wichita West baseball is off to a 12-1 start, but the Pioneers are also making an impact off the field, helping a local family through an unimaginable loss.
Last Wednesday, West dedicated both its games against Kapaun to 12-year-old Camryn Neeley, who passed away in 2020 after battling cancer. The Pioneers wore her initials on their jerseys.
“Camryn was an amazing 12-year-old little girl who loved and followed her church, her school and loved sports,” said her father, Brandon Neeley.
In 2019, Camryn’s basketball coach noticed changes in her behavior. Several doctors’ appointments later the family would learn why.
“Her eye doctor noticed there was too much pressure in her eyes and sent us for an MRI immediately,” Brandon said. “Within two hours they called and said we needed to go to Wesley immediately because they had found a brain tumor.”
Doctors diagnosed Camyrn’s tumor as a glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer that took her life in 10 months.
“She never complained, she was such a trooper, and you would never know that she was suffering,” Brandon said.
It was during the family’s toughest days in the weeks after her death they would gain an unexpected friendship. The person they hired to paint their house turned out to be the West High School athletic director.
“He said that he and his baseball team and the coaches had decided they wanted to donate their time and services and were going to paint the house for free,” Brandon said. “They said they did not want to accept any money as long as we were willing to accept that gift, which we graciously said, of course.”
The Pioneers said although they never met Camryn, they wanted to help the family any way they could.
“It just felt good to help someone out in the community and make them feel good,” said Garryn Plummer.
But the Pioneers didn’t stop there, dedicating the series against Kapaun, the school Camryn would’ve attened, to her.
“We know her family has really had to deal with a lot,” said Ryan Burr, Kapaun’s head baseball coach. “We just pray for them continually and the rest that Camryn has in heaven.”
The family said the bond they’ve created with the West High baseball team has helped bring them peace.
“Moments like these are incredibly helpful for us because these teams are rivals and here they came together to celebrate something that is bigger than them, something that is bigger than the game,” said Brandon. “A precious young little girl that lost her life to cancer far too early.”
The team also created a fundraiser for the family to help with medical bills, if you’d like to donate, click here: https://www.blastathletics.com/teams/40240/sponsors/new
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