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Pitching For A Cause: Baseball Camp Raises Thousands For Breast Cancer Research

By BCRF | March 16, 2017

Founded in his mother’s memory, Joey Friedman’s camp raises significant funds for BCRF

Joey Friedman has only one memory of his mother. She passed away from breast cancer when he was just four years old. Since then, the 29-year-old Virginia native has watched other family members receive cancer diagnoses. The disease claimed both of his grandfathers, an uncle and most recently, his grandmother. His aunt and paternal grandmother are cancer survivors.

Despite losing his mom at such a young age, Friedman remained inspired by who she was. As an elementary school teacher who died at just 36 years old, he established a memorial scholarship in her name.

“I never want people to forget her. She was taken way too soon,” he said.

“Although I only have one random memory of her, I have been told great stories about her. It seems like she was a wonderful person that brought a lot of happiness to people’s lives. I want to continue that.”

This is was how the Karen Wallace Friedman Memorial Scholarship was established. The goal of the program was to support a deserving senior that had been one of his mother’s students. While the program continued well after her students graduated, the funds eventually ran out.

“This really upset me because the scholarship was something my mother could be remembered by, something that would make people think of her,” Friedman said.

Soon after this setback, Friedman was faced with another challenge. His grandmother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. As he watched the disease slowly take her life, he decided to do something to further breast cancer research.

“I had never seen someone in so much pain,” he said about his grandmother. “No one should have to go through that kind of pain, especially during their last days on earth.  I wanted to do something to help put an end to that.”

Friedman, who played professional baseball for three years, decided to turn his passion into a fundraising powerhouse. He organized a baseball camp as a way to support breast cancer research. To do so, he called on his contacts from his pro days who were happy to donate their time and expertise for the cause.

The daylong baseball camp lets kids ages 7-12 run through drills with local coaches and former professional players to improve their skills.  Since 2014, the event has raised over $16,000 for BCRF.

Friedman credits the camp’s success to the volunteer coaches and players who keep the kids motivated and learning. The cause remains a key part of the day. Year after year, Friedman learns of players and coaches who have also been impacted by the disease.

“A coach who lost his wife to breast cancer told me he wanted to help, he didn’t care if he was passing out water. He just wanted to help. I think this camp helps them remember their loved ones too,” he says.

When deciding which organization to support, Friedman said he did his homework.

“I didn’t want peoples’ hard earned money to go to a foundation that only uses 60 percent of the donations for the actual cause,” he said. For this reason he chose BCRF, citing the Foundation's A+ rating and efficiency.  

With the memories of his family members he lost in mind, Friedman’s goal is to make sure other families are spared the same heartache he experienced. 

“I want to put an end to this disease,” he said.