After beating pneumonia, Wauconda boy gets memory of a lifetime

What started as a scary situation for 6-year-old Brayden Kirchwehm ended with an experience he'll never forget.

After spending several days in intensive care earlier this year battling a serious case of pneumonia, Brayden was named an honorary bat boy for the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.

Not only did the Wauconda boy and his family get to attend the game against the Atlanta Braves, but he and his two siblings, Haley, 8, and Matthew, 10, also met some players, sat in the dugout and collected autographs beforehand.

"We got to talk with them, and they signed a ball and our hats," Brayden said before naming off players he met. Among them were Jason Heyward, Kyle Hendricks and David Ross.

The outing was organized by Advocate Children's Hospital in Park Ridge, where Brayden stayed for several days in January after a small cold developed into pneumonia. He had to undergo several procedures, hospital representatives said, but always remained positive and interacted well with doctors and staff, who quickly learned of Brayden's sports fandom.

In partnership with the Cubs, the hospital tries to provide patients like Brayden with a "unique and uplifting experience," said Mickey Ramirez, manager of public affairs and marketing.

"After Brayden got out of the hospital, Mickey called us and asked if we wanted to do this," said Mark Kirchwehm, Brayden's dad, adding that the whole family cheers for the Cubs. "We jumped at the opportunity."

Brayden has since recovered and is doing well, Kirchwehm said. Now, instead of recalling the pain he went through earlier this year, Kirchwehm said, Brayden will hopefully think of his experience at the Cubs game with his family.

"When you go through something that's this terrible - something that's so terrible for your kid - it's nice to put a positive ending on that," Kirchwehm said. "This is something we'll remember as a family forever."

Brayden Kirchwehm, 6, of Wauconda, met with several Cubs players Sunday while serving as the team's honorary bat boy. Brayden overcame a serious case of pneumonia that hospitalized him for several days earlier this year. Associated Press
Brayden Kirchwehm visited the Cubs' dugout at Wrigley Field on Sunday, when the 6-year-old from Wauconda served as the team's honorary bat boy. Associated Press
Brayden Kirchwehm's Wrigley Field outing Sunday was organized by Advocate Children's Hospital in Park Ridge, where the Wauconda boy stayed for several days in January after a small cold developed into a severe case of pneumonia. Associated Press
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