Peoria, Arizona — San Diego Padres players often visit pediatric patients at Rady Children’s Hospital.
But this year, it was the children who made the trip to visit the players at spring training in Peoria, Arizona, thanks to an invite from their hometown heroes.
“We’re not just, you know, caged up in a hospital…we can actually have fun,” 15-year-old Nayleen Griffith told CBS News. Griffith was diagnosed with a brain tumor about two years ago, and continues to battle its impact.
The children were treated like VIPs, with a behind-the-scenes tour, autographs and selfies with star players like slugger Manny Machado.
“Meeting Manny, it was so cool,” said 17-year-old Damien Lopez, who has battled a blood disorder since birth, a condition which requires constant treatment.
However, it was pitcher Tim Hill who may have hit the biggest home run with the group, speaking candidly about his own battle with cancer.
“I dealt with the same, similar things that y’all dealt with,” Hill told the kids. “In 2015, I had colon cancer, stage 3 colon cancer.”
“It’s, like, really inspiring,” Lopez said. “He beat cancer, and he still continues doing what he loves.”
Getting the major-league treatment provided a chance for these kids to just be kids.
“We’ve all gone through a lot,” Griffith said. “So I think, being able to come out here and take a break from everything, is really exciting.”