Posey cheers up young cancer patients

Giants catcher joins Vitale to visit UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital

Posey cheers up young cancer patients

SAN FRANCISCO -- Touched by what he was seeing in front of him, Dick Vitale leaned over and whispered into Buster Posey's ear in the playroom of the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Tuesday morning.

Dozens of children with cancer and their parents crowded into the room to meet the San Francisco Giants catcher. And a woman in front of Vitale and Posey was hugging her baby while tears streamed down her face.

"Crying her eyes out," Vitale, the vibrant ESPN college basketball analyst, said. "They're not going to a baseball game like he is. They're sitting in here from 7 in the morning to 11 o'clock every night. Their life is chasing a dream, hoping and praying that somehow, through a miracle, their child can be saved. These are beautiful young kids. I was ready to bust out crying myself."

A few precious moments meeting and talking to Posey had an indescribable effect on these patients. Dr. Robert E. Goldsby, a pediatric oncologist, said one of his patient's smile was "unbelievable" after he received a signed cap and ball from Posey.

Posey's visit to the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital is part of his foundation's ongoing effort to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research. Since the foundation was launched in April, Posey has dedicated time visiting children who are undergoing treatment at a variety of Bay Area hospitals. Vitale, a longtime advocate for the V foundation, joined Posey and the catcher's wife, Kristen, and the three answered questions from a full-capacity audience, ranging from what their favorite ice cream is, to how Posey acts when he's in public.

"Just a few minutes of smiling and seeing a baseball player lightens their day," Goldsby said. "It makes the time go by. It's really a powerful experience for all of them. I applaud Buster. In this day and age when there's so many hard things going on in life and out in the world, it's nice to see kindness and people using their passion to help other people. It's really beautiful."

Becoming a father set in motion Posey's desire to become an active voice for children fighting cancer. The seventh-year Giant said in April that the lack of funding for pediatric cancer is "unacceptable."

Every 40 minutes another parent finds out their child has cancer, according to Goldsby, and about 20 percent of those patients will die.

"USCF and many other places around the country are trying our darnedest to try and figure out better ways to take care of cancer," said Goldsby. "The only way to do that is to have the funding to conduct those studies."

It is why Posey is hoping to follow the lead of men like Vitale and offer assistance for the battles people are waging against the disease. Normally soft-spoken, Posey even aspires to spread some of Vitale's unparalleled enthusiasm moving forward.

"People like Dick, you're not going to find somebody more passionate about this," Posey said to the crowded audience. "We hope we can learn from him and years of raising money and awareness. Ultimately, our goal is simple, try to get you guys better as quickly as possible."

Vitale exemplified Posey's sentiment countless times Tuesday morning.

"You're going through a tough battle," Vitale said to the children. "It's going to make you so much stronger."

The iconic basketball personality then became increasingly animated when speaking to reporters following the event. The reason: Vitale simply wants publicity and funding.

"Only four cents out of every dollar that is raised for cancer research goes to kids," Vitale said. "Only four cents, that's a crime. These are beautiful young kids. With all the resources we have in our nation, the money that is out there, I think it is a crime that we don't raise more money."

Posey is lending a hand, and also making a few kids' day in the process. As part of Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, Posey and the Giants will also host Pediatric Cancer Awareness Day on Saturday, when the club will honor patients and their families during the club's game against the Cardinals.

Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.