Jeter-man Joe: A dying boy’s wish
There exists a plethora of Derek Jeter fans and they all want an autographed baseball. One young Baltimore boy didn’t have much time left to get one … he was dying from leukemia.
Two weeks ago, when president Chris Federico of the Cool Kids Campaign called Joe Gorman’s dad, Gregg, to ask how young Joe was faring, the bad report told of a relapse – the chemo wasn’t taking. Then the six words were uttered that no one wants to hear about a person they love, let alone a kid, “There’s nothing more they can do.”
“It was hard for Gregg to hold it in,” said Chris, who asked him if the Cool Kids Campaign could do anything.
“Well, I know Joe would really like a Ferrari,” Gregg joked, even with a broken heart. “Or anything signed by Derek Jeter – or a chance to meet him. But Joe doesn’t have much time left.”
“I can help with that,” said Federico, who had grown to love the kid. “I’ll call Ken Singleton.”
Ken serves on the board of this organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for pediatric oncology patients – and their families – experiencing the trauma of a cancer diagnosis and treatments.
When Ken learned of the situation, he said, “I’ll take care of it,” knowing he could ask Derek to sign a ball when next he saw him at Steinbrenner Field. Somewhere around the batting cages, Ken approached Derek with a practice ball and explained the request from young Joe.
“Sure, I’ll sign it,” said Jeter, “but go get a brand new one from the equipment manager in the clubhouse.” Derek didn’t want to send a dirty ball to Joe.
On Monday – the day before Joe’s birthday – Ken and Chris drove to John’s Hopkin’s Children’s Center in downtown Baltimore to deliver the much desired autograph. Joe was unconscious.
His dad tried to wake him up, “Hey, guess what? Your wish came true. Derek signed a ball!”
But it was too late. The ball placed in the young man’s hands stayed for a few minutes, then rolled out.
“I didn’t get a chance to talk to him,” said Ken when he arrived home. “He wasn’t coherent.”
He and Chris had a good visit with Joe’s parents and an uncle, “Nice people, who were extremely appreciative that Derek and I took the time to get the ball for their son,” said Ken. “They were obviously in pain but were upbeat. They knew the situation that Joe wasn’t going to be around much longer.”
One day after his 15th birthday, Joe Gorman died.
Rest in sweet peace, Joe Gorman
March 8, 1996 – March 9, 2011
9711 Monroe Street
Cockeysville, MD 21030
The Cool Kids Campaign is embarking on a groundbreaking venture, The Cool Kids Learning Center, a blend of tutoring facility and activity center – a place to keep kids with cancer up-to-date on their school curriculum. Until now, there hasn’t existed a place for kids to go where they can stay germ-free, meet other families, and have a place to hang out where they are just like everyone else.