There was a slugfest out on the East Islip softball diamond recently and it was ever the more entertaining, because each time a batter swung for the fences, someone they love benefitted.
Taylor Ryan is just nine years old. She loves sports and partakes in any athletic team she can. She also loves her cousin, East Islip softball captain Elizabeth Hand.
Hand helped her fill the coveted position of bat-girl on the East Islip varsity team this year.
"She's just a loveable person you can't get enough of her," says Hand. “She’s amazing – such a bundle of joy and whenever you look at her she’s always smiling.”
Sometimes, the softball players are amazed how Taylor keeps smiling. Just two years ago Taylor was diagnosed with a rare blood disease called histiocytosis.
"It only affects one in every 200,00 kids," says Taylor's mom, Teresa Ryan. "She's been undergoing chemotherapy since last August. Recently she's been showing more symptoms and we had to be more aggressive and she was admitted to the hospital where they could do chemotherapy 24 hours a day."
The physical affects and monetary drain of these procedures drove the East Islip softball team to connect at the plate to win for Taylor, rather than themselves.
The East Islip Home Run Derby was all about Team Taylor.
"We all get six chances to hit and how every many feet we hit is how much money we're giving for donations," says senior catcher Alisa Cipolla.
The money goes directly to the Ryan family.
Assistant coach Tom Tilton says it's the least they can do after Ryan has supported them through the season.
"We were in a game and weren't doing well, making errors, and the girls were down," says Tilton, " I said ‘you think you're down? You want to stop fighting. Take a look over there at the bench, girls, she's ready to go in.’
“And after that they woke up and said 'let's play.' They actually came back and won the game so it shows you fight. There's bigger things in life than the softball game.”
For more information on histiocytosis check out The Histiocytosis Association of America.
To keep up with Taylor's progress, visit here.