June 22, 2017

CARTERVILLE — The bases are loaded. The count is three balls and two strikes. The next pitch is not life or death.

Baseball and softball are only sports.

Cancer, however, is not a sport. It truly can be life or death.

This is why John A. Logan College’s head baseball coach Kyle Surprenant and head softball coach Taylor Orsburn — with the support of athletic director Greg Starrick — set out to raise money for the SIH Cancer Institute in Carterville.

The coaches came up with “Logan Strike Out Cancer Day, Two Teams, One Cause.” To raise money, they sold game jerseys and t-shirts.

The effort netted $2,326, which was donated to the cancer institute on Tuesday. Jennifer Badiu, the center’s director, and Tanna Morgan, the center’s director for fund development, accepted the donation from Surprenant, Orsburn, and Starrick. Following the donation, the Logan trio toured the facility.

“What an incredible place,” Orsburn said following the tour. “The importance of something like this in place in Southern Illinois to help the people in our region who are battling cancer cannot be overstated.”

Surprenant agreed and the coaches and Starrick also agreed that their teams can do more in the future to help the institute.

“I think what we’ve done in raising this money is a drop in a very large bucket,” Surprenant said. “But I hope our efforts can help raise awareness throughout the region about the institute, it’s importance, and how truly incredible it is. We will continue to do more for the institute.”

Surprenant’s and Orsburn’s teams both had very successful seasons this year. Orsburn’s team set a school record for most wins, 46. The baseball team went 40-13. But the coaches noted that the season is not just about wins and losses.

“It’s also about community service and learning to become a responsible adult,” Orsburn pointed out. “It’s about giving back to your community and by participating in this fundraiser for the cancer institute, I’m hoping that my players learned some of that.”

During the tour, Morgan noted that cancer is not an easy journey. Medical visits can add up to nearly 100 appointments in the first year. Treatments can be rigorous.

“Having a facility like the SIH Cancer Institute close to home — close to family and friends — can make all the difference sometimes,” Morgan said. “We bring patients, doctors, and services under one roof for greater efficiency and quality for everyone involved in the journey of cancer treatment.”