Ascher Shostak, a third-grader at Bascomb Elementary School, was invited to take the pitcher’s mound before a game between the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech at the Kauffman Tire Spring Classic for Kids. The game benefits the neurosciences program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
An avid golf player and martial artist, Ascher hasn’t played baseball for about a year. However, his mother said he jumped at the opportunity to throw a pitch at Turner Field.
Ascher said it was exciting to be on the pitcher’s mound at Turner Field.
“I really liked throwing the ball — it was really cool,” Ascher said of the experience. “I was happy to be out there.”
“We support them as much as we can,” Ascher’s mother, Kelen Shostak, said of the family’s support of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Kelen is Environmental Manager for the city of Woodstock and Ascher’s father, David Shostak, is an arborist with the city of Alpharetta.
These days are happier times for Ascher compared to five years ago, when chemotherapy treatments to rid him of his brain tumor consumed his life.
When Ascher was 3 years old, he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, or the buildup of fluids in the brain, caused by a brain tumor. He had surgery to remove the tumor May 17, 2006 — his father’s birthday — followed by chemotherapy for the next five months. Since Oct. 13, 2006, Ascher has been cancer free.
The boy still undergoes an magnetic resonance imaging machine every six months to monitor scar tissue. The equipment used for the procedure brings Kelen Shostak fond memories of how the annual baseball game helped her son.
“Ascher had a surgery where they used a (MRI) that was funded through the baseball games,” Kelen Shostak said. “One year, all of the money raised went to that new MRI machine. We were very happy he could have it.”
Ascher’s mother said she and her family, including her husband and Ascher’s 5-year-old brother, Ari, make it a priority to attend these games every year because they have a lot of friends who weren’t as lucky as they were.
“We’ve been in the clear for five years,” she said. “It’s about being able to help fund the research so we can catch it faster and fix it quicker — or keep it from happening altogether.”