HARLAN, Iowa-- A little boy battling a rare form of brain cancer for more than a year had one dream: to play baseball. And this summer, his community is making it happen.
Two teams, a red team and a blue team, took the field for the final game of the season Saturday. But they're all rallying behind one goal, and one person: Jaxon Rold.
He's the 9-year-old lead hitter for the Harlan Cyclones. And for good reason: he's a slugger!
Jaxon doesn't let his physical condition slow him down. One of his coaches wheels him around the bases, as Jaxon keeps his game face on, clinging tightly to his wheelchair.
He hits a home run during his first at bat.
His parents beam with pride from the stands. Trent Rold, Jaxon's dad, explains, "It goes beyond baseball. It's good friendship too."
Rold and Devin Mahoney, Jaxon's mom, had been looking for a team that could accommodate Jaxon's needs. The Cyclones welcomed him with open arms.
"I'm like really?" Mahoney recalls, with tears in her eyes. "You want my kid in a wheelchair on your team? It's been amazing."
Not only did the Cyclones want him; they put him to work in the outfield.
Jaxon is a natural-born leader both on and off the field.
"Would have been a good hit, but it was a foul," you can hear him tell an opposing batter.
But Jaxon's favorite part is being at the plate, to the chants of "Jaxon strong."
During a game Saturday, Jaxon slugs six home runs over the fences.
"I think six home runs is good," he said modestly.
But to his coaches and his community, Jaxon's an inspiration.
"Jaxon is a strong player, he makes us stronger, and we're here for him," Lori Tarney, Jaxon's dugout helper says.
The other team also supported Jaxon, by making a signed, special bat for his last game of the season. His parents watched proudly from the stands as the team presented it to their son.
Jaxon is currently undergoing chemotherapy, but a football coach is already recruiting him for this fall.