RAILCATS

FIRST PITCH: Brandon Egebrecht

2012-08-28T19:15:00Z 2012-08-28T19:32:09Z FIRST PITCH: Brandon EgebrechtBy Hillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com

GARY | Lake Central senior Brandon Egebrecht was welcomed to his first baseball game with a team jersey and the announcement that he'd be throwing out the first pitch.

"Throwing a first pitch at my first baseball game, I couldn't believe it" the Lake Central senior said. "I came here today, they have this jersey, tell me I'm throwing out a first pitch.

"You couldn't do your first baseball game any better."

Egebrecht also earned celebrity status, with a third-inning interview on the radio and a party suite with donors of Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The 17-year-old was contacted a week ago by Make-A-Wish to attend Tuesday's game, though he wasn't told what his experience would be.

He also attended batting practice with the players, the team signed his jersey and he was invited into the clubhouse.

"All these guys were great, they all talked to me," Egebrecht said.

The senior was a sophomore on April 18, 2011 when he went to the doctor to be tested for what he thought was mono. Instead, the blood tests showed that the swimmer who had enough endurance for 4:30 a.m. practices was blindsided by acute myeloid lukemia.

After taking two bags of chemotherapy for eight straight days, he was exhausted. That's when he was contacted by Make-A-Wish, asking him what would his dream be.

He picked a trip to Australia, where he and his family will visit in December.

"They said if you could pick anything what would it be," Egebrecht said. "I didn't want to meet anybody, I want to go big. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We'll get to see all the sights, hiking, snorkeling. It's been a slow, steady process making it back."

Egebrecht said he came back to his swim team better than he was before his illness.

Meanwhile, his most recent round of tests showed that he is a year into remission, with four more to go before he can be officially called "cured."

"Two weeks ago, I had my one-year bone marrow biopsy, which came back clean," Egebrecht said. "It was so hard for my mom, she spent endless nights not sleeping. Just thinking about it she gets choked up, but she's so happy to see me better than I was before, not effected at all. It's definitely a complete learning experience for the whole family."

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Hillary Smith

Hillary Smith

Hillary Smith has covered prep, pro and college sports -- and even a Dixie Baseball World Series -- for newspapers north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1995.

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