Helping out a good family in need of a lift.
If you have been a follower of the Astros, Padres or Reds, you may remember Ricky Stone, a right-handed relief pitcher who pitched in the Majors from 2001-07. He quietly put together a pitching career that didn’t grab many headlines, but what he and his family have been through lately could fill a 300-page book, that sadly, doesn’t end with happily ever after.
Ricky’s wife, Tracey, recently passed away after a long battle with cancer. Her courage and upbeat spirit through that ordeal is heroic enough on its face, but the fact that she started this journey just after Ricky had battled — and beaten — brain cancer makes you wonder how two good people, living a good, decent life, raising two young kids, were handed not one, but two challenges unimaginable to most of us.
Ricky had been out of baseball for about a year in 2008 when he visited some of his old friends with the Astros while the team was playing in Cincinnati (the Stones live in a Cincinnati suburb). I remember seeing Ricky sitting at a locker and chatting with Roy Oswalt and thinking he didn’t look quite right. He was a little thin and there was just something about his facial expressions that seemed a tad off. I went on about my day and didn’t give it much thought after that.
Oswalt pitched that night and won, and as he addressed reporters at his locker after the game, it was obvious something was very wrong. Oswalt gave three or four rambling sentences about the start — being a pretty media-savvy veteran, he knew what we needed from him without us having to ask many questions — and then he bolted out the door.
The next day, we found out why. After Ricky left the ballpark, he went home, collapsed and suffered a full grand mal seizure brought on by what turned out to be a malignant brain tumor. Tracey, upstairs giving the kids a bath, ran down and saved him by administering CPR.
Dozens of chemo treatments and a little more than a year later, Ricky was declared cancer-free. Another 18 months went by and then Tracy received her diagnosis: ovarian cancer.
Being a cancer patient didn’t stop Tracey from being a mother. She maintained an even-handed attitude as she made life as normal for her kids as possible, in a way that only a mother knows how. She blogged about her challenges, her pain, her chemo, her trips to Houston for treatments at M.D. Anderson, and most importantly, her optimism as she held on to her deep faith and desire to run a happy household regardless of what obstacles came her way.
She and her daughter, Lily, even started a charity to raise money for women who could not afford wigs after chemo. In the first five hours of the fundraiser, they raised more than $17,000.
Friends are now organizing a fundraiser for the Stones, and when I heard about what the money would be used for, I couldn’t donate fast enough. And now I ask that if you can, please consider helping out too.
The funeral home preserved Tracey’s fingerprint. From it, they can make jewelry items for the family members. Ricky’s memento will be a silver ring wrapped with Tracey’s fingerprint and engraved with “Always in my Heart.” Lily’s will be a silver pendant with Tracey’s fingerprint, and son Riley’s will be a dog tag with Tracey’s fingerprint on the front. The engraving on both will read “A Touch of Mom Forever.”
Tracey loved the beach, and incidentally, her last trip was just a few weeks earlier to the west coast to visit some friends they made through baseball. The above picture is of Tracey and Lily, on the beach, forming a heart with their arms.
Tracey’s final wish was for her family to take a journey to the beach together to spread her ashes. The family’s friends are rallying to make sure this happens, along with ensuring Ricky, Lily and Riley receive their mementos.
We look at ballplayers and immediately assume they’re all multimillionaires from day one. That’s not the way it works. Ricky pitched a short time and he made a modest living. Medical expenses piled up, and though they have received tremendous help from friends in the game and from the Baseball Assistance Team (who I refer to as Angels on Earth), these are lean times.
Here is the link to donate…and thank you.