St. Louis, Mo. (KMOV.com)— Charlie Patrick, 6, didn't get to choose which baseball team he'd root for.
"We are Cardinals fans." said Charlie's dad Ryan Patrick.
The Patrick family's Cardinal pride comes with rules. If your root for the Chicago Cubs...well, that just wouldn't happen.
With baseball in his blood, it's no surprise Charlie's throwing just about everything these days. A positive sign for a kid who's faced some curveballs during his life.
"There was no warning for these seizures. He would fall, he would hit his head. There was just always that danger that he would hurt himself because of these seizures." added Ryan Patrick.
Since Charlie was 2-years-old, the seizures became more frequent and intense. Doctors were baffled.
"We were helpless. We were angry. We were sad. We were still hopeful we'd be able to figure out what was wrong with our son," Mr. Patrick reflected.
Charlie's family found hope at St. Louis Children's Hospital where doctors diagnosed him with a rare inflammatory brain disease called Rasmussen’s encephalitis.
Half of Charlie's brain was under attack. Thankfully a team of doctors had a plan to fight back.
"At our center here we have about a 90 percent control rate with complete seizure relief. All of the patients with Rasmussen’s encephalitis have been seizure free or largely seizure free after this operation." said Charlie's surgeon Dr. Matthew Smyth.
The eight-hour surgery doctors performed on Charlie was successful but recovery stood on deck.
"We are not out of the woods yet," said Ryan Patrick.
Amid the uncertainty of Charlie's health after the operation, the St. Louis Cardinals mascot, Fredbird, surprised the Patrick's by visiting Charlie in the hospital in 2014.
A visit that brought some much needed relief.
"It's one thing if you have Fredbird coming to visit all the kids. But he was coming just to visit Charlie. I have not seen my son laugh that hard probably ever," added Ryan Patrick.
A few days later the Patrick's received messages of support from Cardinal manager Mike Matheny, outfielder Matt Holiday, and former Cardinal pitcher Jason Motte. A family friend contacted Fox Sports Midwest broadcaster Jim Hayes. He in turn took pictures of the Cardinals holding signs that read "we're with you Charlie."
"You talk about a surreal moment. It just blew me away," added Mr. Patrick.
The Patricks were surprised again a few weeks later when former Cardinal outfielder Jon Jay and former utility infielder Daniel Descalso paid Charlie a visit.
"To come and give a little boost of moral support to my family, you have no idea what that meant to us," said Charlie's dad.
The Cardinals News 4 interviewed say the feeling is mutual.
"It was great being there that day and to see him get excited when we walked into the room and to be able to hang out with him and his family for a few minutes." said former Cardinal Daniel Descalso.
"When you see somebody suffering through that as a 4-year-old, it's one of those things that really touches your heart," added former Cardinal outfielder Jon Jay.
Win or lose this postseason, the Cardinals message remains the same: they're still supporting Charlie.
Charlie's doctors believe he, his family, and the Cardinals will be able to support each other for a long time.
"I think his chances of remaining seizure free for the rest of his life is very high." said Dr. Smyth.
"I’m hoping for a full recovery for my son and another world series for the Cardinals," added Ryan Patrick.
Now that would be a Fall Classic.
In April 2016, Mr. Patrick says Charlie has been seizure free since June of 2014. Charlie was able to stop taking seizure medication in 2015.
Mr. Patrick says Charlie continues to make developmental strides. With the help of daily therapy, Charlie is making fantastic progress in a special Kindergarten class.
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