Through one video, Ari Schultz has inspired millions.
Now the Boston Red Sox are hoping to return the favor by inviting the 5-year-old heart transplant patient to Fenway Park, where he’ll soon be able to see his favorite team in action.
Team President Sam Kennedy extended the open invitation on Saturday after Pete Frates, the former Boston College baseball player whose fight against ALS inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge, reached out to Schultz on Twitter.
— Pete Frates (@PeteFrates3) June 17, 2017
Simply name the date ! With you two in the house we can't lose ! https://t.co/qTF4Py6q17
— Sam Kennedy (@skennedysox) June 17, 2017
Schultz was released from Boston Children’s Hospital on Friday after spending six months — 189 days to be exact — waiting for and then recovering after undergoing a heart transplant in March.
His fight has been a tough one, and it started before he was even born. Ari was diagnosed with critical aortic stenosis and evolving hypoplastic left heart syndrome during the second trimester of his mother’s pregnancy. Since birth, he’s undergone three separate heart surgeries, and there were tense moments when the family wasn’t sure he’d survive the transplant. Here’s more from WickedLocal:
On March 3, he underwent a heart transplant. He battled severe rejection, spending most of his time in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. On March 22, he went into cardiac arrest and was placed on life support. Ari rallied, though, and was taken off life support March 31.
“When he arrested on March 22 we had no idea if Ari would come back to us at all,” wrote his father Mike Schultz, on the Echo of Hope blogspot on June 15. “And, if he did, whether our little boy would still be anything near the same. Against all odds, he did. He’s here.”
Schultz’s resilience was on display in the video that has now gone viral. It captures the moment he first found out he’d be going home, and his pure elation touched the hearts of millions.
Also evident was his love for sports, and in particular baseball. Ari could not have been any prouder sporting his Xander Bogaerts jersey while showing off his own sweet swing and home run trot.
Though clearly a Red Sox fan, it hasn’t stopped other teams from reaching out too. Schultz has a standing invitation from the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes — the Dodgers California League affiliate — to throw out the first pitch if he’s ever out in California.
We would be honored if you'd like to come our "baseball field" in Rancho and throw out a ceremonial first pitch. You are an inspiration!
— RC Quakes Baseball (@RCQuakes) June 16, 2017
You will not find a tougher person, let alone child, than Ari Schultz. We thank him for inspiring us, and we hope his upcoming trip to Fenway Park brings him much joy.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
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