Woodbury Community Helps Pitcher Strikeout Cancer
Zach Netten is 14-years-old, 6 feet, two and a half inches tall, and by all accounts, can throw a mean fast-pitch. This September, life threw the high school freshman a curve ball.
Netten was just a few days into his freshman year at East Ridge High School in Woodbury when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
"The pediatrician called my parents and said we found something on the chest X-ray that looks kind of sketchy. We want you to go in to make sure that everything is OK," Netten said.
Netten's illness had started more than a year earlier, with a lingering cough. By September of this year, Netten and his family learned he had cancer. Shortly after, he began chemotherapy.
"It was very scary. It's just shocking and you don't think there's going to be anything wrong really but it was shocking," said Leah Schulte, Zach's mom.
"It's really been a humbling experience, it really brings me back down to earth. It could happen to anybody but... It's been amazing how supportive people have been," Netten said.
"He's young, he's strong, he's athletic and I think that's generally in his favor as he's going through chemotherapy," Schulte said.
On Sunday hundreds of kids, including players who have played with and against Zach, met at the Bielenberg Sports Complex in Woodbury to help Netten strike out his disease. Almost 50 teams made up of 4 to 6 kids played in a wiffle ball tournament. The fundraiser also included a home run derby.
"It's kind of nice because it just feels like it really is just kind of a big family and you don't realize it until something like this happens," Schulte said.
"It's been amazing how supportive people have been," Netten said.
Money raised during the benefit will help Netten's family with ongoing medical expenses. Netten also wants to donate some of the funds to the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital where he is receiving treatment.