Utah Utes baseball embraces young boy with congenital condition
Jon Ahlquist, Sons of Baseball Vice Chairman
“I'm never wearing blue again!” 7-year-old Jonah Bradshaw exclaimed.
Jonah was sold. Decked out in his newly acquired red-and-white duds, and smiling under a black, autographed Utah Utes cap just a couple sizes too big, although he insisted it fit him perfectly, Jonah just might be a Utes fan for life now.
Jonah was born with a condition called arthrogryposis, which consists of multiple joint contractures and prevents some muscle groups from fully developing. The young boy has grown up in a wheelchair with limited movement of his arms and legs. Despite having different abilities from his peers, Jonah has the will to find a way to succeed in every aspect of his life.
“He's a perfect child,” Jonah's father, Tom Bradshaw, said. “He really lets us know that we all can do better in our lives because obviously what he has, he can overcome that. Whatever comes to him, he turns around and makes it positive.”
The Bradshaws knew having Jonah would not be easy. Nearly every doctor and counselor advised the couple to not go through with the birth, seeing it would be hard for the baby to ever have a “normal” life. But like many families who embrace the difficult challenges that come with raising a child with a congenital condition, the Bradshaws made their own normal.
“We took the opportunity to have him come into our lives and we were nervous at first,” Tom Bradshaw said. “You wonder as time goes, what will happen. He's 7 years old, and he's amazed us.”
Two weeks ago, Jonah endured a painful surgery to extend his leg, which offers the hope of being able to stand, or even walk, someday. Since the surgery, he has been dealing with an unbearable amount of pain and has not been himself. Friday evening, young Jonah was recognized for his strength in adversities and given a VIP Utah baseball experience provided by the Sons of Baseball Foundation. Throughout the night, Jonah never complained once, and the bright smile on his face masked any amount of hurt he felt for the past two weeks.
“This is phenomenal, today has been really a good day for Jonah,” Tom Bradshaw said while looking over at his jubilant 7-year-old enjoying the baseball game. “Just dealing with pain meds and finding comfort for him from the surgery, this has been the best medicine whatsoever. He hasn't felt any pain, he's very happy; it's like our old Jo-Jo is back.”
Prior to the start of the game, Jonah rolled up to Spring Mobile Park expecting to throw the first pitch for the Utes. However, he was not expecting to be fully embraced by the entire team who offered up a VIP tour of the ballpark and autographed goods for the whole family.
Utah baseball student assistant coach Derek Amicone led the tour from the press box all the way down to the batting cages. Then as Jonah's father wheeled him into the Utes' locker room, the boy met several players and exchanged his Minnesota Twins cap for one equipped with a Utes symbol and an autograph from every member of the team. This was only the first of many surprises to come Jonah's way.
“The catcher that gave him his batting gloves, they all took the time to sign the hat for him, and not only that, but then to talk to him just to make him feel like he's a part of the game,” Sons of Baseball co-founder Jon Ahlquist said of the kind men from the Utes baseball team.
Following the locker room, the Bradshaws headed for the dugout to meet the rest of Utah's players. A problem presented itself with stairs separating Jonah and the field. Jonah, however, was brave and said, “It's a Harry Potter chair!” as his father and several other helpers lifted the chair over the stairs.
“Nothing is going to stop Jonah,” Eric Wallace, another co-founder of Sons of Baseball, said. “He is going to accomplish anything that he wants to accomplish in life."
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