Mizzou Baseball team catches inspiration from boy's cancer fight
A Columbia boy who is battling brain cancer provided inspiration to the University of Missouri baseball team as they fought for a berth in the SEC tournament this spring.
Brandon Couzens, 12, has never been a big fan of baseball. But walking around Taylor Stadium during a regular season home game this spring, he was right at home. Players greeted him with fist bumps and handshakes, making him feel like just one of the guys.
“He hasn’t been to school, he just doesn’t really have time to hang out with any friends,” said Brandon’s mom, Somer Couzens. “He’s been in the hospital or recovering or resting, so just to get him out of the house and having fun is awesome.”
Brandon was connected with the Mizzou baseball team through the Friends of Jacklyn Foundation, a national organization which pairs kids battling cancer with local teams and clubs.
“It’s positive and just putting a smile on his face,” Somer Couzens said.
Over the past year, Brandon has spent much of his time at MU Health Care clinics and doctor’s offices. He’s been battling medulloblastoma, a brain tumor. Brandon finished chemotherapy in February and celebrated a clear MRI scan this spring.
“The dude’s kicking cancer’s butt, and that’s the attitude we want, you know,” said Mizzou Head Baseball Coach Steve Bieser. “I think it helps us, he helps us being around, because we appreciate more,” Bieser said.
At a special signing ceremony, the team added Brandon to the roster, making him an honorary member of the team. He got his own locker and jersey. At games, Brandon is a man of few words. But he’s formed a special bond with the team, especially senior Trey Harris.
“He gets me going. He makes me have a little more bounce in my step, play with a little more emotion,” Harris said.
Harris used Brandon’s inspiration May 19th to help the Tigers earn a spot in the SEC tournament, breaking open the final game of the regular season by hitting a 3-run blast in a must-win game against Tennessee.
“Brandon might look up to us, but I swear we look up to him more than anything,” said Harris.