LAGUNA NIGUEL (CBSLA) — A little league team is honoring their fallen teammate in a big way.
Will Keating, the team’s first baseman and pitcher, died of a rare kidney disease in March. He clearly has not been forgotten.
KCAL9’s Stacey Butler spoke to Will’s family and teammates.
“Honestly, I can’t even put it into words,” says his sister Abigail.
For the loss of an athlete dying young, words fail. But the team has carried the family through the death of their 12-year-old boy.
“[The field] this is where he loved to be,” said mom Gina.
“I really thank these boys and these coaches and the whole league for what they’ve done for us,” said dad Bill.
Will’s team won the league championship Monday night. They released balloons for Will in his honor.
“When we put our hands in, we always say his number, his initials, his name. It means to all of us, I know” says teammate Robbie Brennan. “It’s like in every game he was giving some of his strength to all of us.”
On the same field Friday with every player wearing a patch with No. 34 — Will’s number — they gave a fellow player the Will Keating award.
It went to Shawn Whiten, who helps embody Will’s selfless nature on the field.
“This award means a lot to me,” Whiten said. “Will was everyone on the team’s best friend.”
His family is truly touched by all the gestures big and small.
“You see how much he meant to the little league players and this was really home,” says Will’s sister Julia.
When Will was receiving treatments at Children’s Hospital in Orange, he vowed to help raise money to buy one more machine to help kids with kidney problems. He wanted to make it possible for no kid to have to wait hours.
So far, the league has raised $40,000, but unfortunately it’s not enough for a full machine.
“We have raised money that has gone towards the purchase,” says Gina, “but we haven’t raised at this point to fund an entire machine.”
If you’d like to contribute, click here for a link to Children’s Hospital in Orange.