FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A young baseball fan is inspiring the community following his battle with lymphoma. To celebrate being cancer-free, the Fresno Grizzlies invited Jackson Standifer to be a member of the team for the day. And this 11-year-old's love for the game is just as strong as his love for helping others.
Jackson never shows up to Chukchansi Park without his glove. For this visit, he bypassed the stands and went straight for the field. As the team's honorary captain, Jackson got his own locker space, then was dressed from head to toe, with help from his teammates.
"Everything he's battled, it's the least we could do, let him come out here to spend a day in our lives," Grizzlies starting pitcher Dan Straily said.
Last week, the Grizzlies surprised Jackson at Valley Children's Hospital with a contract, making him an official member of the team for a day. After suiting up, Jackson emerged from the locker room, ready to play ball.
"It was absolutely amazing. I didn't really think it would happen. I honestly thought they were just going to give me a jersey and tell me to go change in the bathroom. It's so much more, and the guys are all so nice," Jackson said.
While out on the field for batting practice, Jackson discovered he shared something in common with the team's manager.
"You a survivor? Look at that right there. I'm a survivor too dude," Grizzlies Manager Tony DeFrancesco said.
"It's nice to meet people who know and just aren't shooting in the dark like 'oh, that must have been terrible.' I mean he actually knows," Jackson said.
Jackson's been sidelined from the game he loves since being diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma last year and spending 110 days in the hospital. His dad says Jackson's resilience is inspiring.
"He's the bravest person I've ever known. To face that the way he did, not always without fear but always eyes on the prize, always looking forward," Lou Standifer said.
Jackson had that same determination when he took the mound Wednesday night, throwing out the first pitch.
And now that he's on the road to recovery, he wants to help others. Jackson's come up with an idea to create a new patient survivor kit for young patients that includes an iPod and iTunes credit to stock up on music.
"Those are things I know made my time easier, was music. I needed music to sleep, music to clear my head," Jackson said.
Wednesday night's appearance at Chukchansi Park is just the first step in his transition back to what he knows as "normal." He has plans to go back to school next fall.
"I'm going to Alta to go for their team, and if anybody from Alta is watching this, I'm coming next year," Jackson said.
A winning attitude on and off the field.
Click here to visit the Team Jackson - JAX Facebook page
Action News producer Christine Brown contributed to this report.
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