What are we as Mets fans but our collective sense of self? Or our sense of what we’re not? Consider the case of David, a man I encountered last summer for the first time through my friend Jeff at Citi Field when we, along with Jeff’s son Dylan, attended a Mets-Phillies game together.
David struck me as a really decent human being — plus he wore a Shea Stadium Final Season pin on his golf shirt. I liked him immediately. And he liked Citi Field enough to come back with his wife and two daughters a couple of weeks later to see the Mets play the Marlins. Describing a bottom-of-the-ninth rally that came up one hit shy, David wrote to Jeff, “I never felt so excited and hopeful, and in the next minute, ‘What happened?’ It got real quiet.”
This was in August. Come early September, Jeff sent me horrifying news: David was in Colorado, on vacation with his family, when he experienced a seizure. His wife took him to a hospital where he was told he had suffered an aneurysm and was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
Stunning. Terrible. Blatantly unfair. David could not have appeared any healthier when we parted ways on the 7 Super Express in August. Now this. Just miserable, miserable news. Talk about real quiet.
But there was this slender blue and orange lining, as related by Jeff:
“When the Colorado doctor saw that he was from New York, he asked if he was a Yankees fan, and David, despite his condition and pain, objected and said that he was a Mets fan.”
Yeah, this is definitely a Mets fan we’re talking about. And he’s a Mets fan who, through resolve, treatment and some kind of faith, we’re still talking about very much in the present tense. That is to say I saw David at Citi Field in early May. He plans to drive his oldest daughter to college in August. He intends to run the New York City Marathon in November. He is, in the face of overwhelming odds, alive and — all things considered — relatively well.
I wouldn’t be sharing any of this with you except for the actions of another friend of David’s, a fellow I’ve never met named Roger Hess. Roger and David go back to first grade. Roger doesn’t just go back, though. He’s going forward with a helluva plan to go up. Next week, Roger will begin a climb up Denali, in Alaska. You might have learned its identity as Mt. McKinley not long after you were in first grade. Under any name, it’s the highest peak North America has to challenge any climber.
But Roger’s not just any climber. He, too, is a Mets fan. And what makes his climb not just impressive but beautiful is that he’s dedicating it to David, and to Tug McGraw, who was diagnosed in 2003 with the same kind of brain tumor David’s been fighting. As such, Roger is using his climb to — as our friend Sharon Chapman has with her distance running — raise funds for the Tug McGraw Foundation.
We’ve written a lot about Sharon’s efforts over the past couple of years, and in doing so alluded to the work the Tug McGraw Foundation does to fight brain cancer. Sometimes when you hear about another victim, such as Gary Carter, you’re left to wonder what all the work all the organizations like that add up to.
Well, I think David’s a good answer. David wasn’t necessarily supposed to make it to a Mets game in 2011. He wasn’t necessarily supposed to be able to look forward to that drive with his daughter. He wasn’t necessarily supposed to be able to train for a marathon. But here he is, because of resolve, treatment and some kind of faith…and because of the kinds of advances there have been in cancer research since Tug succumbed in 2004.
There’s no cure, but there is hope, and that is exciting. And as Mets fans, we know from hope. We hope for the best for Gary Carter as he gets treated for his brain tumors. We hope for the best for Roger Hess as he approaches base camp at Denali. We surely hope every day that our fellow Mets fan David meets all of his goals.
We hope, too, that if you can, you can contribute to Roger’s fundraising. We’ve asked you to help the Tug McGraw Foundation on more than one occasion, and many of you have. We ask again because there’s still more that needs to be done and David represents a sign that the Foundation’s kind of work does make a difference to many.
We also ask because we’re proud to be Mets fans because it means we’re on the same side as guys like David and Roger.
To support Roger Hess’s climb up Denali to raise funds for the Tug McGraw Foundation in honor of his friend David, who has fought so valiantly to beat his brain tumor, please visit here. Thank you.