Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr. Plays Catch with Fan Living with Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

Ronald Acuña Jr. is a professional baseball player with the Atlanta Braves. The powerhouse player is known for being an NL MVP and for becoming the first player in Major League Baseball history to join the 40-70 club (40 home runs and 70 stolen bases in a season). But Acuña Jr. is also making waves off the field through the Atlanta Braves Foundation. The Atlanta Braves Foundation aims to develop community through baseball by engaging with the community, promoting equity across a variety of spheres (including health and education), and contributing to personal wellbeing.

Recently, the Atlanta Braves Foundation connected a young fan named James with Acuña Jr. and the team during Spring Training. According to Zac Blackerby in Braves Today on Fan Nation, James has cystic fibrosis (CF). One of his wishes in life was to not just watch a game at Spring Training (my dream too, James!), but to have some playing time with the team. During the course of the day, James had the amazing opportunity to meet Atlanta Braves’ players, run around the bases, and even play catch with Acuña Jr. This is truly any fan’s biggest wish – and it is a wonderful thing that James had the opportunity to get more involved in the sport he loves. One day, he says, he even hopes to become a professional baseball player himself.

We’re cheering you on from Patient Worthy, James!

What is Cystic Fibrosis (CF)?

Our bodies normally produce healthy mucus; this “slippery” mucus helps moisten organs, fight infections, and filter allergens or other microparticles from our systems. If this mucus is too thick, it can accumulate throughout our systems instead, leading to health issues. This is what happens in cystic fibrosis. People with cystic fibrosis have gene mutations that affect a protein which regulates salt movement in the body. This causes mucus to become thick and sticky, clogging the airways, preventing the release of digestive enzymes, and allowing bacteria to collect in the respiratory and digestive systems. Although cystic fibrosis is progressive, people with cystic fibrosis can manage their conditions. New therapies and advances have contributed to longer lifespans and better outcomes.

Symptoms of CF may include:

  • Persistent coughing and wheezing that may produce thick mucus
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Recurrent sinusitis
  • Frequent lung infections
  • Shortness of breath and/or difficulty breathing
  • Infertility (in males)
  • Salty-tasting skin
  • Constipation
  • Failure to thrive
  • Greasy, foul-smelling stools
  • Intestinal blockages (in infants)

Complications of cystic fibrosis may include nasal polyps, chronic infections, damaged airways, coughing up blood, pneumothorax, and respiratory failure.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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