Major League Baseball formed 113 years ago. In those 113 years, only 284 pitchers have thrown a no-hitter. Throwing a no-hitter is one of the toughest things to accomplish as a pitcher. No bloop singles that fall between the outfielder and shortstop. No weak grounders that find their way through the infield. Yet as rare as it is, Jon Lester was able to accomplish the feat in 2008. But at that point in his life, he had already overcome a tougher task: he beat cancer. And since his diagnosis, he has used his celebrity to help the fight against pediatric cancer. Lester displays Character through his charitable foundation as well as Uniqueness as an MLB player who has survived cancer.
After 4 years of moving through the minors, Lester became recognized as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. After finally reaching the majors at age 22, Lester pitched for about two and half months before being placed on the disabled list. The original reason for being sidelined was for symptoms believed to be related to his recent car crash. But upon further testing, it was found that Jon had enlarged lymph nodes and was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma.
As anyone who has been around cancer can tell you, this news is not easy to hear. Especially for a 22-year-old, whose health directly impacts his ability to perform on the field. But Jon persevered, understanding that he could strike out cancer. After going through a few months of chemotherapy, Lester was declared cancer-free and immediately dove back into being a ballplayer. And less than a year after beating cancer, he found himself pitching in the 2007 World Series. Since his comeback from cancer, Lester has seen himself win 2 World Series Championships, named an All-Star 4 times, pitch a no-hitter, and receive a 6 year, $155 million contract with the Chicago Cubs.
But just beating cancer himself was never his only goal.
Understanding just how lucky he was to have beaten cancer, Lester made it another one of his goals to help find a cure for cancer. Jon founded NVRQT (short for “never quit”) whose goal is to “help to raise awareness and money for children’s cancer research.” NVRQT partnered with the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation to provide inspiration for those who have cancer and try to find a cure. Lester’s commitment to this cause comes as no surprise given his past, but his work with NVRQT is nonetheless admirable. He and his wife, Farrah, have organized many charity events supporting the cause as well as gone to visit children’s hospitals with various teammates.
What I love about Jon’s story is the determination he had to not only overcome cancer himself, but to continue working tirelessly to help others. His continued work with pediatric cancer is inspiring, while his work on the field for the Cubs has led them to be World Series frontrunners. And I am sure that as he leads the Cubs towards the playoffs, watching may be children suffering from cancer, who can feel inspired and hopeful for the future knowing a cancer survivor is living out their dream.
Follow Jon Lester on Twitter @JLester34
Posted 6 July 2016