#ParkerStrong

By MARLAN JONES,

The Simpson County Cardinals are a select baseball team coached by Simpson County natives Brian Mills, Kalen Jackson and Xavier Hayes. The organization consists of a 9 year old and 11 year old team. The teams came together last August and quickly formed strong bonds that saw them finish the season in second place.

Baseball brought this group of young men together, but in the coming months a difficult situation would make them strong, #ParkerStrong.

Parker Pierce, the son of Brad and Paige Pierce of Magee, is a member of the Cardinal family. Mills said, “He is a workhorse for us, a great teammate and brother.”

Parker’s life changed drastically on November 7, 2017, when he was diagnosed with leukemia.

Mills said that the team understood that it was going to be a trying time for him and his family, but they wanted to make sure Parker knew he was not alone.

“We knew there was going to be a point when he is going to feel alone, but we’re ready to fight beside him,” said Mills. The team has been supportive of Parker throughout the process.

They entered a float in the Magee Christmas Parade with the theme of “Parker’s Prayer Warriors - Capture Leukemia.”  It won first place.

Parker began chemotherapy for leukemia and as a result he lost his hair. He was understandably spending less time with his team, but he was on their minds. “We knew his hair was going to fall out and he was going to feel different,” said Mills. “We wanted him to know that we don’t care about hair or how he looks and that he is part of our family and we love him.”

Last Friday the Cardinals made a strong gesture to show Parker how much they care. The team  visited a local barber shop to have their heads shaved.  They were all smiles as the hair came off.

They wanted Parker  to know that they are all in the fight together. Mills said, “We wanted him to see that he didn’t have to feel different so we went to his house. It was exciting to see all the boys rally when he walked off the porch to join his brothers.”

Mills said Parker had been away for so long that it made everyone feel good to see his spirits lifted and to have the Cardinal family complete. The #ParkerStrong movement is in full force.

The Cardinals are currently preparing for competition, and Coach Mills said they have even more motivation. “It’s simple we are playing for him,” said Mills.

Mills said the team plans to continue to show up and support Parker as much as his schedule allows because he will always be a Cardinal.

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Area high schools have chosen their top graduates for special honors at graduation ceremonies across the county this month.  They will be recognized and speak to audiences at those ceremonies.