Algonquin boy hits grand slam in honor of sick mom
grand slam honors sick mom
It was only when Michael La Rue stopped shooting video that he realized tears were streaming down his face.
It wasn't just that his 12-year-old nephew, Mason Kamp of Algonquin, hit a grand slam on a misty morning June 4 at the Cooperstown Dreams Park youth baseball invitational tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y., a coveted national tournament open only to 12-year-olds.
The thing was, Mason, a catcher and first baseman for the McHenry County Outlaws, had been dreaming of hitting a home run to honor his very sick mom, Kathy Dozier, who is battling Stage 4 melanoma.
"Everyone was just crying and sobbing. For him to do this for his mother was just magical," said La Rue, who grew up in Elgin with his sister and now lives in New York City.
Dozier, who was watching in the dugout next to her brother and all the other parents, said she had spent the past couple of days worrying that Mason had put way too much pressure on himself by telling everyone he wanted to hit a home run for his mom.
Instead, the shy but determined boy delivered — and how.
"It was absolutely just crazy wonderful. I couldn't have asked for a better moment," Dozier said. "This little 12-year-old kid did it, for himself and for his mom. It was amazing."
Mason, who next year will be a seventh-grader at Westfield Community School in Algonquin, said he knew a great hit would do his mom loads of good.
"I haven't had any home runs this season, and I know Mom. If I hit one, I had a feeling that it would probably make her forget about her cancer," Mason said. "I just wanted to do it in the biggest stage for a 12-year-old."
Just the fact that Dozier was there to witness it was a small miracle.
The 43-year-old Dozier, who owns Chasin' Our Tails dog day care and boarding facility in Cary, was diagnosed with cancer in November 2010. She has undergone four surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, and had to go into the hospital on Memorial Day when she started having difficulty walking.
However, she had the support of her medical team to make sure she'd make it to Cooperstown, she said.
"Since March, I was concerned I was not going to be able to make the trip. It was everyone's goal — my goal, my doctors', the nurses'," she said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance for him, and I've been his biggest fan for baseball since he started."
Dozier checked out of the hospital May 31, and the next day she, her husband, Ron Dozier, and Mason got on the road, with a small bed made up for mom in the back seat. Mason's dad, Mike Kamp, lives in Lombard.
During the two-day drive, Mason announced he wanted to hit a home run for his mom.
"I said, 'Oh, honey, let's just have fun and make memories.' I was afraid of the burden it would put on him," Dozier said.
She said she always has been the kind of sporty mom who cheers from the sidelines. Having played baseball and softball when she was younger, she really bonded with Mason over his love for baseball.
Then came the game against the Florida Naturals, the team's third in the tournament. At the top of the third inning, Mason went up to bat with two outs and the bases loaded. He let the first strike go by.
Then something funny happened, Dozier and her brother said.
"Immediately I had a rush come over me. I got a little teary. The next pitch, I knew it was going to happen," Dozier said. "He cracked a bullet over that wall. All I remember is screaming, jumping and crying, watching him run the bases and get celebrated by his team."
Mason's uncle had a similar experience. Until then, he had been snapping photos, but something told him to switch to video at just the right moment, La Rue said.
"I was on him (with the camera). With just that crack, the noise it made, I knew," he said. "I turned to watch the ball sail over the right field fence, Kathy screaming behind me. All the mothers and fathers, everyone was shouting and yelling."
Fellow team mom and friend Reine Akers of Algonquin said the moment was incredibly emotional.
"I hugged her and said, 'I love you, I love your son.' We hugged and bawled. Everybody around her was crying and high-fiving,'" she said.
As for Mason, it took him a second to realize what he'd done.
"I didn't even know it was a grand slam. People in my dugout, my teammates, were shouting 'grand slam, grand slam' and it hit me," he said. "It just made me so excited, and I felt so good."
McHenry County Outlaws coach Dan Denz said the team didn't do too well in Cooperstown — they won one of seven games, and lost the game in which Mason hit the grand slam — but there were some great moments, Mason's first and foremost.
"The kids accomplished a lot of things individually out there, and Mason accomplished the biggest accomplishment of all," Denz said.
Dozier has shown exemplary strength in battling her cancer, Denz said.
"Mason's mom is a strong, strong woman. She had surgery one night, and the next day she was at the game. I couldn't believe it," he said.
Dozier has soldiered through her treatments, always making sure to be there for Mason, her friend Akers said. "She lives and breathes for her son," she said.
The soaring feelings brought on by that moment in Cooperstown will always be in her heart, Dozier said.
"Mason made me forget about my past with cancer, my future with cancer. I got to live in the moment. And no matter what my future holds, I will always draw on this Cooperstown experience."
Grand: Boy's mom has Stage 4 melanoma
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