Giddy laughter permeated through the White Sox’ clubhouse Wednesday afternoon, and it wasn’t because the team was coming off a 5-1 victory over the Indians the night before.
The laughter came from 7-year-old Alex Estrada.
“I’m having so much fun,” Estrada yelled as he ran to his very own locker.
Estrada was diagnosed in September 2015 with stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma. He underwent 18 months of treatment that consisted of chemotherapy, radiation, stem-cell transplant, stem-cell harvest and surgery.
After six months of remission, Estrada relapsed.
“He doesn’t let it hold him back,” said Alex’s father, Vince. “Even at the hospital with IVs, we’re constantly yelling at him, ‘You can’t run, you can’t run, you gotta walk,’ as he’s pulling his IV pull around.”
You could see the perseverance in him Wednesday. Despite undergoing nine of what will be 17 rounds of treatment, Alex was enjoying himself in a major-league clubhouse the same way any 7-year-old would.
It all started when Alex was identified through a Sox contact at Lurie Children’s Hospital. The Sox community-relations department believed he’d be the perfect child to bring in during Sox Serve Week.
The day started with a limo ride from daycare with his father and team mascot Southpaw. Vince said Alex still wasn’t sure what was happening.
“As far as he knew, today was just a normal day,” Vince said.
It was anything but. Alex was treated to a day in the life of a major-leaguer. He warmed up in the bullpen, stretched on the field with the team, took batting practice and even relaxed in the hot tub before making his on-field debut.
Before the game, Alex hit a “Home Run for Life.” He ran the bases, high-fiving Indians and Sox players as he made his way to the plate.
As the day wrapped up, Alex’s smile was still as bright as when it all started, and every Sox player was smiling along with him.
“If everything goes according to plan, Alex will be the next-generation Sox fan in our family,” Vince said.