Brock's Wish to Meet Brandon Phillips Granted



Photography provided by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana

In July 2014, Brock’s wish to meet his baseball idol, Brandon Phillips, was granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. On March 6, 2015, Brock will be honored at the foundation’s annual Cincinnati Big Wish Gala at Music Hall. LEAD Cincinnati was lucky enough to be able to interview Brock and his mom Kristi about their experience. Check back on Monday for pictures from the event! 

 

Brock sounds like a pretty ordinary 14-year-old kid. He likes going to school, playing with his friends and he especially enjoys the outdoors. Like many boys his age, his favorite activity is baseball. Besides his precociously outgoing personality, you’d think there’s nothing that separates Brock from anyone else. Except that, from an early age, Brock has been in a constant struggle with his health. 

“Brock has been battling health issues since he was five,” says his mom Kristi. For years, Kristi and her husband searched for the cause of Brock’s ailments. They even took him to the National Institutes of Health in an attempt to find a rare gene mutation, but nothing turned up. Eventually Brock was diagnosed with a life-threatening autoimmune disease.  

Brock has had monthly blood transfusions for nine years. He has had so many surgeries that Kristi has lost count. And yet, for having gone through so much at such a young age, Brock is a surprisingly positive kid. 

In the end of 2013, Brock’s doctor asked whether Brock wanted to apply for a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Initially, Kristi was unsure.

“Even though he had had transfusions every month, he didn’t seem like a Make-A-Wish kid,” she says. Her impression was that Make-A-Wish kids faced imminently life-threatening conditions; Brock’s condition, while serious, was not imminently life-threatening. “But his doctor said he had been through more in his life than most and that he deserved a wish.”

Kristi and Brock’s doctor filed the paperwork. The Make-A-Wish Foundation was quick to respond that Brock was accepted. Upon his acceptance, they sent gifts to the family's house, not just for Brock but for his older brother as well. 

As an avid fan of the Cincinnati Reds, Brock knew immediately he wanted to meet Brandon Phillips for his wish. 

“I’ve always been a Reds fan because my dad is a Reds fan,” says Brock. “I like Brandon Phillips because I’m a second baseman and because of the way he plays the game. I love that he always has a smile on his face no matter what.”

“Brock’s very positive and smiley like Brandon Phillips,” says Kristi. “He even named his hamster BP! He’s just a huge fan.” 

Brock was put on a waiting list for a several months. But when he and his family learned that he would have to undergo a bone-marrow transplant in September 2014, Kristi notified the foundation and asked whether his wish could be moved up. The foundation eagerly complied. 

Brock’s wish came true in July 2014. First, Brock got to meet Reds outfielder Jay Bruce at his baseball camp, where Brock had the chance to hit off Bruce during a scrimmage. “I also got to eat lunch with him and ask him any question I wanted,” says Brock. “I asked him what it was like to play at Great American Ball Park. He said it's a dream come true every time he walks out to the field.”

The next day, Brock went to Great American to get autographs and watch batting practice. Bruce recognized Brock from the camp and came over to say hello. “That was really cool,” Brock says. 

Then Brock's wish was granted. Sporting an official Reds jersey with “B-Rock”and #42 on the back (for Jackie Robinson), Brock stepped onto the baseline of Great American Ball Park and met Brandon Phillips who, as always, was smiling ear-to-ear. Brock, it turned out, wasn’t the least bit shy. 

“Brock is one of those kids who has an amazing perspective on life,” says Ashley Rich, development officer at the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. "He has one of those personalities where he could talk to anyone. So when he got to meet Brandon Phillips and the other players, he was not shy at all. He was able to go up to his heroes and talk baseball. He’s just a very outgoing kid.” 

“It was amazing,” says Kristi of the experience. Brock’s wish was the 13,000th granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, so there was a lot of media there to cover Brock’s meeting with Phillips. “My husband was so choked up he couldn’t do an interview. He couldn’t talk.” 

Even the cameraman had to walk away a few times because, according to Kristi, "he got choked up hearing all the encouraging things Phillips was saying.” 

Brock got to play a quiet game of catch with Phillips. He and his family then went on a walking tour around the stadium. When they stopped in the media booth with Thom Brenneman announcing the game, Brenneman insisted that Brock come into the booth on national TV and talk about his story.

At the end of the game, Brock and his family watched the post-game fireworks from the Reds’ dugout. It was a fitting ending to an incredible day. 

“It was unbelievable,” Brock says. “I can’t put it into words how it went – more than I ever dreamed of.” 

When asked about the importance of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Kristi says, “I just think about my son, who deals with all this stuff every day. No one should have to deal with that. I can barely deal with it. It was an amazing thing that I could never have done for him. It didn't take away all the other stuff he was going through, but it made the load lighter. It made him forget about the bone-marrow transplant for a minute and focus on something else.” 

Today, Brock is still recovering from the bone-marrow transplant, which he says was quite painful. “I’ve just been trying to get back to normal,” he says. 

Brock will be honored at the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana’s annual Cincinnati Big Wish Gala at Music Hall on March 6, 2015, where he will share his inspirational story with guests. 

The gala will try to raise $211,000 through a silent and a live auction, which will enable the foundation to grant wishes to kids in the future. The cost of the average wish is $10,000. 

“We are really excited that the whole Cincinnati community is coming together to celebrate the mission of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, and especially Brock’s wish, which was such an inspiration for our chapter as it was the 13,000th wish granted,” says Rich, who is the Gala’s lead coordinator. 

“Wishes are more than just a nice thing. They truly strengthen kids in their battles against life-threatening conditions. They bring families closer together and they rally communities to help grant those wishes,” continues Rich. “A wish come true fills the child with hope and leaves an impact that’s real, powerful and lasting.”

The memory of Brock’s wish coming true has helped him through his bone-marrow transplant, and it will help him as he continues to battle his autoimmune disease. But he’ll have more than his memories to remind him of the event. While visiting Great American Ball Park, Brock and the team received bracelets saying ‘Pray for Brock’ on one side. On the other side was printed Jeremiah 29:11, Brock’s favorite passage from the Bible. It reads:

“ 'For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ "