September 13, 2017

MARION — Three-year-old Blakleigh Camden made a wish. Friday it comes true.

Blakleigh — who has been battling cancer most of her life — takes the field with the John A. Logan College softball team as an honorary bat girl.

“This is something she wants to do so badly,” said her mother, Kasi Camden. “I believe she will be strong enough. She wants to be part of the team.”

The Lady Vols are receiving Blakleigh with open arms.

“Our team is so touched by her story and her courage,” said Lady Vols head softball coach Taylor Orsburn. “There will be a lot of love on the field Friday.”

The Lady Vols' Fall Softball Tournament takes place at Marion High School. The Lady Vols take the field at 10 a.m. to face Three Rivers Community College from Southeast Missouri.

Blakleigh is just returning home from Cardinal Glennon in St. Louis where — after battling a brain tumor — has now been diagnosed with stage three liver cancer.

“She is the most outgoing, fun-spirited, and loving individual you will ever meet,” said Orsburn, who recently spent time with the little girl and her mother. “Her mother has not even had the chance to take a deep breath from one cancer diagnosis to the next. But Friday she is bringing Blakleigh to the field and we will be so honored to have her.”

In addition to making Blakleigh’s wish come true, the Lady Vols will also lead a fundraising effort to offset some of the expenses involved in traveling back and forth to St. Louis for treatments. The child and her mother live in Murphysboro.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

“Those of us so fortunate with our health that we are able to compete on the softball field day in and day out sometimes forget that there are people — even children — who are literally fighting for their lives day in and day out,” Orsburn said. “Our team is going to stand with Blakleigh to help her in her fight.”

Other teams participating in Friday’s tournament are also standing with Blakleigh and are purchasing special t-shirts to wear that day to show their support.

In addition, a donation box will be in place at the tournament for others to give.

The first game starts at 10 a.m. Friday and the last game begins at 4 p.m.