The Swanson family was honored today by the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation at the foundation's annual Memorial Day Weekend tournament at MacArthur Park in Batavia.
In 2007, Anders Swanson -- in the blue shirt above with mother Amy, father Garth and brothers Beckett and Cooper -- was diagnosed with cancer deep in his brain when he was 18 months old.
"(The doctors were) brutally honest," Amy said. "This kind of cancer is rare, it’s aggressive and it doesn’t have a good outcome. Kids with this kind of cancer don’t survive."
He immediately underwent surgery, and then a long ordeal of treatment that included four rounds of chemo, 31 days of radiation, two high-dosage chemo treatments, two stem-cell transplants, and countless blood transfusions, spinal taps and CAT scans. He underwent a second major brain surgery in which 90 percent of the cancer was removed. Now considered cancer free, Amy said he still undergoes numerous regular tests and the fight isn't over, yet Anders remains positive and a team player.
"He has to work much harder, but he greets everything with a can-do attitude," Amy said.
The tournament, she said, was a great way to honor Micheal's memory, because his love of baseball is evident by every smile on the field.
"We know how important baseball is," Amy said. "It’s about accountability, character, courage, confidence, commitment, determination, ethics, honor, humility and humor, integrity, loyalty, leadership, obedience, self-discipline, sportsmanship and teamwork. These truly are the key components of baseball. Baseball is unique in that it can often mirror life itself. The great length of a baseball season, and the fact that failure is an innate part of the game, offers players, coaches and parents the opportunities to teach many more of life’s truths and skills."
The foundation regularly provides financial support to families with children battling cancer, and Laurie Napoleone presented the Swanson's with a $1,000 check, but the Swanson's asked that the money be donated to other charities.
Since Micheal's death, the foundation has provided more than $230,000 to 300 families in the region, donated more than $56,000 to pediatric cancer research, and assisted youth sports with $38,000 in donations, and provided another $50,000 to the Golisano Children's Hospital in Rochester.
The Spirit of Michael Napoleone Award went to Ryan Carroll and Jacob Smith.