TROY, Mich. (WXYZ) — In two days, the first Jamie Samuelsen Strike Out Colon Cancer event is happening in Troy. It features a softball game and baseball tournament raising money and awareness for colon cancer in Samuelsen’s honor.
“Young people need to know that this can happen to them," Jamie's wife Christy McDonald said. "We had no idea. It totally smacked us out of the blue. Our lives changed in one day.”
For McDonald, colon cancer awareness has become a mission. She’s been encouraging people to get screened after losing her husband to the disease at just 48 years old.
“I hear from people everyday who say, 'Hey Christy, I got myself checked out because of Jamie and everything's good.'" McDonald said. "Or, I have actually heard from people that said, 'I went in because of Jamie's story and they found cancer, and now I'm fighting cancer.'”
Samuelsen was a longtime Detroit sports radio host who was popular on the morning drive. It was a job he loved, even in his toughest days.
“For the 19 months that he battled colon cancer, we kept it private," McDonald said. "For him, it was really wonderful to be able to go on the air everyday and talk about sports."
Listeners of Samuelsen like Mike Morris and Patrick Koneval felt a connection. The two Troy teachers were launching a youth baseball tournament when they decided to have it played for Samuelsen.
“Mike came up with the idea and said, 'Why don’t we name it in Jamie's honor?' And I was like, 'That’s a great idea,'" Koneval said.
The event is raising money for two colon cancer charities and has a silent auction online. There’s also a softball game Friday night featuring former professional athletes and local media members, including Brett Kast and Jeanna Trotman from 7 Action News.
“We're about growing the game and it’s great we can do it in his honor,” Morris said.
Raising funds and spreading awareness on the baseball diamond — it’s the type of fundraiser that Samuelsen’s family and he himself wouldn’t miss for the world.
“It means so much to us to have that kind of support, and he’d love it," McDonald said. "He’d be like, 'Baseball, on a Friday night? In the summertime? I'm there.' And he’s here with us.”
For more information, visit the event website leaguesportsllc.com.