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Team effort name of game at Relay

Baseball has always been a favorite pastime shared by Mike Clouse and his 10-year-old son, Max.
But at last week’s Relay For Life of Unicoi County event, the sport became more special for Mike when his son’s baseball team presented him with the game ball and walked a few laps around the track to support him in his battle with cancer.
Mike, who is living with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, often helps out with Max’s baseball team, the Yankees, which is sponsored by the Erwin Elks Club. He said the show of support by the kids is overwhelming.
“It’s wonderful,” Mike said Friday. “It’s really nice for the kids to come out.”
Chris Hatcher, a coach for the Elks team, said that because Max was unable to make it to their Friday-afternoon game, the team members wanted to give Max the game ball. Max had been helping his father all day at the track to prepare for the Relay For Life event.
“They wanted to give it to Max just as a token of support,” Hatcher said. “Then, Max signed the ball and gave it to Mike. They wanted to come out and show their support for (Mike) by walking a lap with him.”
Mickey Hatcher, who also helps coach the team, said he is proud of the kids for their compassion and support.
“This is one of the biggest life lessons kids can have,” Mickey Hatcher said.
Mike was diagnosed with cancer in March 2002. Since then, he has been in remission three times and continues to battle the disease. Currently, Mike is in chemotherapy treatment, which has left him blind in one eye. Despite the disease and difficult treatments, Mike continues to help with Max and the rest of the Yankees around three times per week.
“I love it,” Mike said of helping with Max’s baseball team. “We share a love for baseball.”
Mike said he also continues to help with Relay For Life, just as he has for the past nine years. Though he doesn’t always stay for the entire night, he said he enjoys the event each year.