Softball: Mid-Suburban teams make it happen for Manz clan
There were two Mid-Suburban League softball games at Rolling Meadows High School on Monday.
But the final scores were side notes.
This was about scoring a cure for Retts Syndrome and keeping Madden Manz in everyone's thoughts.
Six-year-old Maive Manz and her 4-year-old brother Max threw out the first pitch at an event to raise money for Rett syndrome which has hospitalized their 19-month old brother Madden for the past seven weeks.
The rare neurological disorder caused by mutations on an x-linked chromosome on a gene called MECP-2, primarily affecting girls.
There is currently no cure.
Every one in 10,000 female births is affected, but fewer than 50 total cases have been documented for boys worldwide.
Boys typically have a clinical picture of severe progressive encephalopathy at birth, with significant breathing abnormalities and difficulties.
Madden, the son of former Palatine softball coach and current Rolling Meadows assistant Jeff Manz and his wife Jenna, has fiercely battled the extremely rare neuromuscular genetic disorder. Madden is at Lurie Childrens Hospital in Chicago due to a repository infection that requires him to have a breathing tube for ventilation.
Madden continues to defy odds, as his condition is considered terminal for boys in infancy or early childhood. He is one of 40 boys in the entire country with Rett syndrome.
There are no clinical trials available to boys, only to girls.
"I was at the hospital earlier in the day," said Jeff, who was at the fundraising games on Monday where raffle tickets and donations were being collected. "You know, Madden had his best chest X-ray in seven weeks. It's like these games gave him strength."
The games were all about Madden, as players on all team wore shirts with his name on the front.
"The game was not important," said Fremd senior left fielder Abby Iuorio, whose team defeated Hersey 5-0. "This was about Madden and raising money for the cure. These games over the past four years (held in the past for Non Hodgkins Lyphoma and Bloodbourne cancer) have been more important for me than the softball."
Palatine coach Nicole Pauly came up with the idea to have her Pirates and Rolling Meadows play a benefit game for Rett syndrome a few months ago.
"Jeff has been a part of the Palatine family for a long time," Pauly said. "Anything to do to support his family is the least we can do. Once a Pirate, always a Pirate."
Meadows coach Tony Wolanski then obtained permission to host the doubleheader.
"I want to thank our great staff for getting this field in great shape to play," Wolanski said. "It was a mess this morning from the rain. And I want to thank our administration for letting us host because this is for a great cause."
Fremd coach Jim Weaver is the brother-in-law of Jeff Manz. He contacted Manz about helping out and participating in another game with Hersey.
"This is a great event," said Weaver, whose team played at 4:30 p.m. followed by Rolling Meadows and Palatine at 7 p.m. "I want to give a huge thank you to the other three varsity coaches for making it all happen and all the parents who pitched in to help.
"We got a nice day for it and Rolling Meadows got the field in great shape which was huge. So I just hope we did some good for Madden."
Hersey coach Molly Freeman, a former softball standout at Fremd High School, called it a great event.
"It's always nice to see people and coaches come through to help people out," Freeman said. "We all have the Manz family in our thoughts and it's nice to be able to do something to help out. That's the great thing about sports. It unites people."
"I'm really honored that people thought so much to do something in honor of my son and came out to support an event like this," Jeff Manz said. "It's a scary situation that my family and others are in, and this really gives us something to be positive about.
"We turned a negative into a positive and the Mid-Suburban League has always done a great job at supporting causes that hit close to home."
Rettsyndrome.org is the best resource to learn about the disorder and fund research opportunities to find a cure.