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Wed, Feb 5th, 2014

Rod Carew is Welcome Addition to Twins Camp!

Twins icon, National Hall of Fame Member and 1977 American League Most Valuable Player, Rod Carew addresses the campers during the Friday evening banquet.

Last April at the Twins' home opener, Rod Carew stopped by the suite of Bruce and Randy Grachek to say hello.  During his visit, he and camp director Stan Dickman discussed the possibility of Rod joining us for the 2014 Twins Fantasy Camp.  Rod was excited to pursue it and when it appeared that the camp would be another sell-out, he and Stan were able to arrive at a schedule that worked with his busy schedule.  We couldn't have been more excited!

Rod arrived in Ft Myers late on Wednesday evening and was able to share two full days at this year's camp.  While at camp, he went from dugout to dugout meeting and chatting with this year's campers.  Rod looks like he could still grab a bat and hit .300+!  Friday morning Rod could be found in the batting cages prior to game action, providing hitting instruction and insights to those campers fortunate to be in earshot.  A more gracious and genuine Hall of Fame member would be hard to imagine.  Rod shared time with countless campers and was available to sign their personal memorabilia for them during Thursday's lunch.

"A Pair of Hall of Fame Members"

Twins Camp Hall of Fame member, Scott McDougall poses with National Baseball Hall of Fame member, Rod Carew, between innings of Thursday afternoon game action.

One of the highlights of Rod's visit and the entire camp week came on Friday evening, as part of the banquet festivities.  In September of 1995, Rod's youngest daughter Michelle was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.  The Carew family searched extensively for a bone marrow match to help in her fight with the disease.  When no bone marrow match was found, an umbilical cord blood transplant was performed in March of 1996.  Michelle lost her battle with leukemia, passing on April 17, 1996 at the age of 18.  Since that time, Rod has devoted much of his time and energy to working with organizations dedicated to research on all types of blood born cancers.

This year, Mark Haigh, an attorney from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, made a return visit to the Twins camp.  Mark and some of his friends from Sioux Falls had attended the camp in 2009.  In June of 2011, Mark was diagnosed with AML - the same type of leukemia that Rod's daughter had battled.  Over the past three years, Mark and his family have bravely battled with everything the cancer could throw at him.  Having followed the family's journal entries on Caring Bridge, we knew first hand that his chemotherapy treatments, eventual bone marrow transplant and the continued medications have continued to place hurdles to his recovery.  Mark is fortunate to be surrounded by a great wife, kids and friends who were with him through every challenge.

While at camp, Mark had the opportunity to chat "one on one" with Rod, and to thank him for all of the work he has done and continues to do in this battle for better and more successful treatments.  In his Caring Bridge Journal, Mark documents, in very personal terms, the impact that his meeting with Rod had on him.  Anyone interested in keeping up with Mark can do so by logging on to http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/markhaigh/journal/index/0/0/asc.

On Friday night, Rod presented an autographed jersey to Mark prior to his taking questions from the campers.  He explained that he knew first hand the battle that Mark and his family had been engaged in and pointed to Mark as an example of how far the research in fighting AML had come since 1996.  He wanted all of us to understand the courage that Mark had demonstrated and commended him in his continuing struggle.  Suffice to say that there were plenty of damp eyes, and most in attendance experienced a bit of trouble swallowing when Rod had finished his remarks.

Rod and Twins Camper, Mark Haigh at the podium during Friday evening's banquet.  Rod presented Mark an autographed jersey.

Rod Carew is considered by most to be among the top 100 players to have ever competed at the Major League level.  What those of us in attendance at this year's camp learned is that his greatest work may well have been off the field and out of the batter's box.  On behalf of everyone at the Twins camp, we wish to again thank Rod for joining us this past camp and look forward to the opportunity to have him join us at a future Twins Fantasy Camp!

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