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Christian James Puts His Body to the Ultimate Test for Cancer Awareness

Indianapolis, IN - 8/7/10 - On Saturday August 7th, 2010, Christian James hit 2,555 softballs in five hours - or about 500 hits per hour - raising awareness and funds for cancer research and Street Kids Care. Shane Varga, a cancer survivor and SKS player, was on hand and wrote the following article, recapping an amazing weekend.

This weekend was a very special weekend for the Street Kids Softball team, but more importantly for Street Kids Care, the charitable division of Street Kids Softball. The team placed 4th in the NSA class "B" State Championship, however, there was something much bigger than a State Championship taking place in Indianapolis. This weekend Street Kids Care and Christian James, the founder of Helping Hits organization, partnered up for an event you had to see to believe.

Last year we learned about Christian's amazing feat of hitting 5,000 softballs in a 24 hour period to raise funds and awareness for the fight against Cancer. This weekend he set out to hit a five hour personal best of 2,555. To put that into perspective, that is a little over eight balls hit per minute at a continuous five hour pace, or about 500 softballs per hour. This is obviously not something you just go out and do. Christian created his own training program to simulate the fatigue his muscles would experience during such a grueling event. He also now wears working/gardening gloves rather than batting gloves to help reduce blistering and bleeding that is caused from the amount of repetition that goes with taking that many swings.

As a team, we met up with Christian Friday night and were able to spend some time with him. If actions speak louder than words, it is clear that Christian James is one of the kindest and big hearted people you may ever meet. I was so happy to learn that the integrity of this man matched his mission. Often times you get someone who claims to stand for something when in reality their actions do not support this. Christian's mission is much like that of Street Kids Care and that is to inspire others to do great things. He is the type of person you spend time with and he motivates you to make a difference by just being himself.

When Saturday finally arrived, the plan was for Christian to start hitting at 10:00am and finish at 3:00pm. He needed someone to pitch to him and shag balls in order to stay on pace to finish on time. Remember, a little over eight balls per minute had to be averaged to finish on time. It was the plan for the Street Kids team to help Christian with this when we were not playing. When we were playing he would need to rely on help from other teams and volunteers. However, this plan came apart from the start.

As the team started its first game, so did Christian. Unfortunately, Street Kids dropped its first game forcing them to play a total of three consecutive games. The three games did not finish until a little before 2:30. This only left the team about 30 minutes to assist Christian to his goal. At one point during the third game, TJ Jorgensen ran over to the other field (about 200 yards away) and checked in again to see how he was doing. He was around 2,000 swings at that point and looked exhausted. It was very hot with no clouds in the sky and we were very worried how he would be holding up at this point. We were tired and exhausted so we could only imagine what he was going through.

TJ and I were the first to head over to the field to help out with the final stretch. When we got there we were both a little shocked. It was only Christian and an 11 year old boy from Brown County, Indiana named Eli, who had been with Christian almost the entire time. He was responsible for pitching to Christian for the majority of the hits, and accounted for almost 2,000 pitches. Without this young man's amazing heart, Christian would not have met his goal. The whole weekend was about character, but no one realized that one of the best examples of this would come from a boy of only 11 years old. When every other kid was playing at the park like a kid enjoying their summer should, it was Eli who stepped up to help a cause he didn't even realize he was helping. He may not realize the impact of what his selfless act of spending almost five hours of his day to help a complete stranger means, but I hope one day he will.

"I think its amazing what he's doing and I just wanted to be a part of it," said Eli, who's proud father was also in attendance. "I knew no one was able to help out so I stayed."

This leads me to my favorite part of the weekend and one of the most special moments I can remember for a long time. It is a period of celerity in which my eyes were open to numerous parallels. I could tell Eli was very tired. A young boy of 11 out in the sun all day, not having fun at this point, yet for some reason drawn to help a cause and not give up. I instantly realized how this was much the same as the man who decided to fly over from Iowa to put on an event he is so passionate about. A man who took over 2,000 swings at that point, was in the same blistering heat, and was running on nothing but heart. In the sun all day, not having fun at this point, yet for a clear reason determined to meet his goal.

The night before, I had shared with Christian that I have taken a little over 100 swings in a row and was sore for many days after that and had some pretty mean blisters, too. I told him based on that, I can't imagine how he is going to feel. He trains for these events, but it still takes an enormous toll on the body. When I finally arrived to help after our third game ended, I no longer had to imagine what it felt like, I could see it. He was so tired and in so much pain I actually felt like I could feel it. It was something that I had seen before, something I had experienced, but in a different way. I relieved Eli and started pitching to Christian. I too was tired, fatigued, and hot, but nothing to what he was experiencing. At that moment it hit me how much more important what I was involved in was compared to what our team was trying to accomplish. If he was only on swing number five and I had to finish the rest of the tournament, I would have chose to pitch the rest of the day to Christian.

Not only was Christian doing this for the fight against Cancer, but by doing this he was actually doing this for me personally. Everything came clear to me that this is how the event was supposed to end. A man fighting to beat Cancer through awareness one swing at a time, being pitched to by a man who fought to beat Cancer to survive. It was poetic in my mind. Not only because we were connected by his cause, but amazingly it ran much deeper than that. The funny thing is that much like Eli had no clue what his selflessness meant to Christian, Christian had no idea what his exhibition meant to me. I later sat down with Christian and asked him if he ever had a Cancer survivor participate in an event with him. He stated that "no one had ever participated, but several survivors have been in the crowd before." It is for this reason he never realized he got a taste of what my life was like for seven months, in his five hours.

My heart almost broke for him at one point because I could see the extent of his pain, struggle, and fatigue. When I say fatigue I am not taking about being tired. The man was noticeably shaking from the energy being drained from him and the demand on his muscles could no longer be met causing him to tremble and wobble. Keep in mind the pace he had to maintain at a heat index of well over 90 degrees with no clouds. The only thing keeping him going was determination and heart. I would imagine at times the brief thought of quitting popped in his head. I would imagine that wondering if coming all the way from Iowa for this event when it was just he and Eli for a good portion of the day was being noticed like he so passionately wanted for his cause. I would imagine that almost no one else would chose to put their body through such extreme conditions. Then it hit me. He has no idea that what he is feeling right now can be related to how I felt through my treatments.

There were brief moments of time I wanted to give up because my body was too tired and had been through too much. There were times that even though many people were behind me, it seemed like no one was around to notice. Times I wondered if I had the heart to make it through. Christian got to experience some of these things without even realizing it. In a way, he is walking in the shoes of those he is trying to help. I brought this to his attention and while he was processing it, he was very quick to say "Yes, but the difference is that when I go home and wake up, I don't have to go through this day after day." The major reasons we came out on top were determination, heart, support, and faith.

With the support of the rest of the team cheering him on, I continued to pitch to Christian; from each bucket of 101 balls, to the last bucket of 70, to the last ball reaching his goal of 2,555 balls hit in five hours. He finished with less than one minute remaining. With his hands on his knees from exhaustion and after our team asked him several questions, in a brief moment of silence he quietly stated "guys, do you mind if I go sit down."

It was one of the most amazing displays of sacrifice I have ever witnessed. I am so glad I not only got to be a part of it, but I think it was fitting that we partnered up to the finish line. For everyone that volunteered and everyone that donated to the cause, on behalf of Street Kids Care and myself, I thank you and especially Christian James for making this one of the most memorable experiences we have ever been a part of.

To read more about Christian's amazing strength and powerful passion, visit HelpingHits.org.

Christian James of Helping Hits teamed up with Street Kids Care to hit 2,555 balls in just five hours for cancer awareness.


Shane Varga of SK Care sat down with Christian James and talked about overcoming adversity.