Windsor’s Kevin Siddall will be missed

by on February 10, 2014

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* Kevin Siddall (Windsor, Ont.), passed away Tuesday after a courageous battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The outpouring of support in the baseball community and beyond for the 14-year-old was impressive. The youngster will be missed. ….

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By Alexis Brudnicki

WINDSOR, Ont. – No one fights alone.

Even as he lost his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, succumbing to the disease on Tuesday, 14-year-old Kevin Siddall was never alone.

Everyone around him made sure of that.

During Kevin’s six-month fight, thousands have supported his family and the cause.

Just one of many, many examples, his older sister Brooke’s hockey team from the University of Guelph added lime green touches to their uniforms for games this season, donning the awareness colour for lymphoma cancer proudly.

That same team arrived by bus to Windsor on Friday for the afternoon visitation of the Siddall family. Many tears were shed as they joined a line that wrapped around the entire funeral home and almost out the door.

Officials asked people waiting in line to “close the gap, please,” or “if you are with someone please stand two or three abreast,” or “could you please line up against the wall, so people exiting can leave.”

Parking lots adjacent to the home had to be used to accommodate Kevin’s many visitors.

Sean McCann, a 78-year-old Windsor native and Toronto Blue Jays ambassador for amateur baseball, put it best when he said, “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

McCann, along with good friend Reno Bertoia, who played for the Detroit Tigers (playing for Canadian Ball Hall of Famer Father Cullen), didn’t know Kevin personally. McCann came in support of the family, in particular Kevin’s father Joe. He had seen Joe when he played for the Detroit Tigers, after the catcher had spent time with the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins.

Joe Siddall continues to work with his hometown team on occasion now, though he couldn’t continue last year after Kevin fell ill in August. In the fall, the Tigers sent Kevin a jersey with his name on the back, autographed by all of the players.

The support from the sports community could not be missed. Right next to the Siddall family’s receiving line was a bouquet of red roses from Hall of Famer Al Kaline and his wife, Louise. The Toronto Blue Jays sent an arrangement in the shape of a maple leaf, which sat among a plethora of bouquets and various arrangements from a countless number of baseball and hockey clubs from the area.

“Obviously we’re all shocked,” Cary Mancinone, a coach of one of Kevin’s many teams, told the Windsor Star on Tuesday. “It’s a big loss for all of us. Joe is such a big part of the baseball community here in Windsor. This reaches deep. High school, minor baseball, everywhere.”

Detroit Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski showed his support of Joe and the entire family on Friday, as did Kevin Briand, a pro scout with the Blue Jays, Tom Gage, a sports writer and columnist for The Detroit News, who covers the Tigers beat. Ford C. Frick award winner Bob Elliott took the train from Oakville to Windsor and back to pay his respects to the Siddall family as well.

Siddall gymCanisius College shared a contribution from players, parents and friends of the family, in support of Kevin and his older brother Brett, currently a member of the Golden Griffins baseball team and former member of the Canadian junior national team. Brett, along with several others, also shaved their heads in support of his youngest sibling.

Canisius baseball had cancer awareness shirts made a couple of weeks ago … “for two family members diagnosed in the fall of 2013,” according to its Twitter accounts.

Hundreds of pictures of Kevin were on display, most sharing the happiest moments of his life, and showcasing a beautiful and happy Siddall family. Even one group of photos from his most recent hospital days showed a triumphant young man who continued to make everyone around him better.

Without health issues and incredibly active, Kevin’s diagnosis was a huge shock. He was almost immediately hospitalized, and he said it best when he tweeted at the end of December:

“2013 taught me that your life could drastically change in a matter of seconds. Appreciate each moment and live life to the fullest.”

Many local teams sported lime green on numerous occasions over the last six months, hoping to raise awareness and help in the fight against cancer. Events sold Fight For Kevin bracelets, with proceeds benefiting the Ronald McDonald House in London.

In November, prior to a Windsor Junior Spitfires and LaSalle Sabres Bantam hockey game, the young baseball and hockey player was honoured in a pre-game ceremony. He watched his grandparents accept a jersey for him online from the hospital in London.

Kevin was the youngest of four, with Brett, Brooke and Mackenzie always looking out for him. A week short of his 15th birthday, Kevin never made it to what would have been his first year at Holy Names high school, with which Joe coached Brett and his teammates to OFSAA two years ago.

Support for Kevin has poured in for the Siddall family, flooding inboxes, mailboxes, and having an incredible online presence through social media.

Brooke said Friday night she was “overwhelmed with love and support,” before asking her followers on Twitter to “please mix some lime green into your attire tomorrow” for Kevin’s funeral on Saturday morning.

The hashtags #FFK, to fight for Kevin, and #NoOneFightsAlone have been prevalent during the months that Kevin fought his battle.

On Kevin’s own Twitter account, the backdrop features an inspiring quote from Babe Ruth, as if Kevin himself weren’t inspirational enough:

“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

 

Alexis Brudnicki
Baseball has been a part of Alexis' life since her parents took her brother to sign up for Eager Beaver Baseball in London. Alexis wanted to play and asked to sign up, too. Alexis played ball until the boys were all twice her size and then switched to competitive fastball. Her first job was as an umpire for rookies with the EBBA and since then Alexis has completed her education with an undergraduate degree from the University of Western Ontario and graduate studies in Sports Journalism at Centennial College

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