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Baseball camp to benefit childhood cancer research

Former Demopolis High and Shorter College (Ga.) standout Bart Butler will host the “Hitting for a Cure” baseball camp next week at the Sports-Plex.

The camp, which will be open to children aged 7 through 12, will benefit the Rally Foundation, a Georgia-based non-profit organization aimed at funding the research of childhood cancer. The cause is one that hits close to home for Butler, who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia at 14 years old.

“I was diagnosed right before my 15th birthday,” Butler said. “I missed a year of school and a year and a half of ball.”

Butler, who came across the Rally Foundation while surfing the internet, has found a way to uses something he loves, the game of baseball, to help combat something he knows all too well.

“I want to help these kids learn the game, teach them the fundamentals,” Butler said of the local youth who will attend his camp. “But it is also a way I can help some other kids I’ll never meet have an easier time going through what I went through.”

For Butler, the fight with AML kept him out of school for a year and away from the game of baseball for a year and a half.

“It was real tough. I started playing tee ball when I was five. For the next 10 years, (playing baseball) was all I did,” Butler said. “That was the biggest thing for me to handle was not being able to play. It really made me put things in perspective. I lived and breathed baseball. But I had to put things in perspective. It taught me that if I put God in front of ball, a lot better things would happen for me.”

In the eight years since his recovery, Butler has gone on to play baseball at the high school and college levels, and now finds his joy in teaching others the intricacies of the game.

“I have a real passion for teaching the game. This is a way I know to help make these kids better ballplayers while doing something I love,” Butler said.

Butler will enlist the services of the players he coaches on the West Alabama 16U team to help with the camp. If early registration for the camp is strong, he will turn to a handful of local college players to assist.

Registration for the camp is $100 with all proceeds going directly to the Rally Foundation. Those seeking more information on the camp can contact Butler at 205-499-0845 or by e-mail at bartbutler6@hotmail.com. Those seeking more info on the Rally Foundation can find it at www.rallyfoundation.org.