Andrew Saunders Jr, is the nineteen-year-old son of William and Margo Saunders. In May of 2014 at the age of 16, Andrew was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. This came as a devastating shock to the family.
Andrew started playing baseball (t-ball) at the age of three. Andrew had a love for the sport from day 1. When Andrew was 7 he started playing competitive travel ball. Just like many travel ball families, Andrew’s family became fully involved, spending weekend after weekend at different ball parks around the state of Florida as well as across the country.
It was not long before, Andrew’s father, William, saw a need in the travel ball market and starting hosting competitive baseball tournaments along the West coast of Florida as well as Central Florida. As a result, Andrew and the rest of the family where spending even more time at the baseball fields across the state.
Around 11 or 12 years old, Andrew was routinely hampered with small nagging injuries thus having to take time off from playing. After multiple doctor visits it was dismissed it as routine growing pains.
In 2014, as a sophomore in high school, Andrew started complaining about tingling and numbness in his leg and later in his face. After a trip to the doctor, he was sent to do an MRI of his brain. A few days later, while he was with some friends at the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, the doctor would reveal to William and Margo, their baby boy had Multiple Sclerosis, also known as MS.
Needless to say, the news was shocking. As you could imagine, Andrew’s mother and father where inconsolable. After a long discussion, William and Margo called Andrew’s family doctor and told him of the diagnosis. He recommended they tell Andrew and then bring him to see the doctor so he could explain to Andrew what this meant for him. William and Margo decided William would tell Andrew of the diagnosis as they felt Margo would have a tough time holding it together.
“I remember like it was yesterday, this was the single most difficult thing I have ever done in my life, telling my little boy he has a disease like MS, the thought of that morning still brings tears to my eyes. How do you tell your 16-year-old son something like that? All you can do is ask God to give you the strength to make it through times like this…”
It wasn’t long before the questions of cost started to set in. Routine doctor visits, tests, medications, etc. Fortunately, the family had medical insurance. Margo and William started to wonder what if they did not have insurance and started wondering how many families out there are going through something like this and did not have insurance. They started talking to Andrew about this and all agreed they wanted do something to help families dealing with pediatric MS but other pediatric diseases as well.
Thus the Andrew Saunders – Strike Out MS tournament series was born. The first event was held May 13-15, 2016. Currently for the 2017 season there are five Andrew Saunders – Strike Out MS events in Florida and plans to add more across the country with a portion of the proceeds going to MS research. Each additionally will sell raffle tickets for sports memorabilia. 100% of the proceeds from the raffle will go to the Montel Williams MS Foundation.