Braves' Suzuki rallies MLB stars to support 3-year-old cancer patient

by
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

A social media effort to help support Trucker Duke - a 3-year-old boy from Maui with Stage 4 neuroblastoma - has taken off around MLB, partly thanks to Atlanta Braves catcher and Hawaii native Kurt Suzuki.

Suzuki found out about Trucker's story from his mother, who asked him to buy a T-shirt to fundraise for the young boy's fight against neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer that starts in immature nerve cells.

The social media effort called #TruckerToughChallenge was conceived by a family friend of the Dukes, asking people to send photos of themselves with a "tough face" while making the shaka hand gesture. Once Suzuki and his wife Renee heard Trucker's story, they began their efforts to get major-league players involved. Since then, stars including Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond, Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado, and Buster Posey have participated.

In fact, the effort generated so many photos that the Suzukis ended up making a video collage instead of posting them all separately.

Trucker was only 19 months old when he was diagnosed and was given a 30 percent chance of living for five years. The Duke family decided to stop traditional treatment in September and instead began attempting to care for Trucker nutritionally as the pain from chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and the surgical removal of tumors on his brain and abdomen was too much.

"It wasn't a sign of, 'We're giving up hope,''' Kurt said, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. "His family is very Christian. They believe in miracles. They still have hope. But it got to a point where they were tired of seeing their son suffer."

The Dukes recently enrolled Trucker in hospice care for pain management.

"They just promote love and faith," Renee said. "They seem to be teaching others how to live while dealing with the most horrific parental pain. They're remarkable, remarkable humans."