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Playing for mom

Justin Baetz and mom, Patty, during last year’s Football for a Cure. (click for larger version)
August 11, 2010 - Every gridiron gang member and coach knows how important Saturday's Football for a Cure is for everyone touched by cancer.

Especially Justin Baetz - senior inside linebacker.

Last August he put on the light blue jersey for the game and played for his mom - Patty, who at the time was battling her own fight with cancer.

"It was an inspiration," Justin remembered from last year's event. "It helped my mom out and did something for her because she had something real bad. It was a way to give back to her."

Patty was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2009 and as it changed her life - it changed the life for her husband, Randy and two sons, Justin and Jeremy.

"It was tough," she said. "It is very difficult to go through but it does make you closer with your family. You start realizing how short life is. In a sense there are always postives and that's one of them."

Justin couldn't shake the image from his head as he watched his mom go through the tests and treatments.

"It was really painful," he said. "It hurt to see the pain in my mom's eyes. It was hard to see her like that every day - going through what she had to go through."

Another positive was the support Patty and the Baetz family had from not only friends but the community. When she heard the football program was starting Football for a Cure she was excited they were going to raise money and awareness.

"A tremendous amount of people are touched by cancer every year and not everyone has access to great medical care and a great support system like I do," said Patty. "It is very admirable the Clarkston Football Program is reaching out, raising money and supporting our community to help find a cure for all types of cancer."

Justin is still thankful he had his teammates with him during the Football for a Cure pre-season scrimmage and during the season.

"It was so helpful with everyone having your back," he said. "Most families have yet to go through what I have."

Since Patty's diagnosis she has undergone three surgeries and had 33 weeks of radiation.

"My doctors believe they have all the cancer," she said. "It was a tough ordeal and hopefully it doesn't come back."

The next four years she is going to be closely monitored.

Justin isn't going to forget what his mom went through as he suits up on Saturday.

"I am going to keep that same mind set as last year. Other people have to go through it as well," he added.

"This has been an extremely difficult time in my life but I have a wonderful husband, along with my two loving sons, who have helped me stay positive and fight this terrible disease," said Patty. "I also have a wonderful group of friends that have supported me through this life changing experience."

This year all Football for a Cure proceeds go to McLaren Breast Cancer and the Great Lakes Cancer Institute, both in Independence Township, including concessions and helmet passing through the stands.

Forms are available at McLaren Breast Cancer at Clarkston and Great Lakes Clarkston Institute, both at 5701 Bow Pointe Drive. T-shirts are available for $10 and pink and blue bracelets for $1.

McClaren Breast Center and Great Lakes Cancer Institute will also have a booth with information and a free raffle for an iPod.

"It's a great event," said Patty. "We had a great time last year with it."

The varsity players proudly wear pink and blue jerseys during Football for a Cure, beginning at 7 p.m. this Saturday at the Clarkston High School stadium.

"It's a really good benefit," said Justin. "We are raising money for a good cause. Come out, see us play and make a donation."

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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