AL HAMNIK: Little Aidan O'Sullivan embodies Cal Ripken World Series

2013-08-13T19:45:00Z 2014-02-04T21:18:16Z AL HAMNIK: Little Aidan O'Sullivan embodies Cal Ripken World SeriesAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
August 13, 2013 7:45 pm  • 

HAMMOND | They say if life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

Well, little Aidan O'Sullivan took it a step further. He opened a lemonade stand that's still going strong.

I wish you could meet this 4-foot-9, 78-pound second baseman/centerfielder from Quincy, Mass. He truly represents what the Cal Ripken World Series is all about -- teamwork, sportsmanship, compassion, courage.

And you don't have to be a sports fan to admire this very mature 12-year-old, an inspiration for those of us young and old.

Think baseball and you can almost smell the buttered pop corn, grilled hot dogs, cheeseburgers, nachos and huge slices of pizza. But Aidan can't eat any of that, plus 90 percent of every food group known to man.

He has severe food allergies that are life-threatening.

"I can't eat most meat, most vegetables, most fruit," Aidan said before Tuesday night's game with Hawaii. "It's been difficult because a lot of people talk about it.

"I can't eat at restaurants. I bring my own food and a lot of people ask what I'm eating. That's pretty hard. There's a lot of questions asked about it which can get relatively annoying."

Remember, he is only 12.

"I sit at a peanut-free table at school and a lot of my friends are very supportive about it," said the seventh-grader.

Bitter? Angry? Feeling cheated?

"I was like that. I did that for him," added Sunny O'Sullivan, the boy's mother.

"I try to stay motivated. There's nothing holding me back," Aidan said. "I know I can be just like any other kid. My teammates have been great; very supportive."

When baseball season ends, like a summer romance, there will be soccer, basketball and golf to help fill his school year. His mother says Aidan is a standout in all, just like baseball.

You like the movies? I do, but if he goes with friends, they all have to be extra cautious.

"I can't get anything at concession stands, except water," Aidan said. "I can't drink soda. I can't drink Gatorade. I'm allergic to soy as well and that's a big factor in most foods."

Sunny O'Sullivan and husband Mike have two children, including 13-year-old son Eoin, who is allergy-free. They say Aidan's allergies first surfaced when he was 2 or 3 years old.

"I'm outgrowing some of them. I can eat chicken, steak and pork now whereas before I couldn't," Aidan said. "I couldn't eat chicken fingers 'cause they're in oil.

"I can't eat any candy. There is one type of chocolate I can have but it's made in Vermont, so we have to order it online."

There is a supplement he must take that tastes like mud but, other than that, Aidan is remarkably healthy.

He never goes anywhere without his EpiPen and inhaler -- he has asthma and uses the inhaler four times a day.

"I've never had to use my EpiPen. I try to stay protected," Aidan said, proudly.

"It's a good education for the rest of our team," Quincy manager Mark Free said of Aidan's health issues. "They're all part of it because they're teammates."

Sunny says both benefit from each other.

"Aidan just loves sports. He wants to be good at everything," she said. "He's small and he's skinny but I'm small, too, so it's not as if we have height going for us.

"He just has that spirit."

Thank you Aidan O'Sullivan, for being you.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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