Brothers with genetic disease form bond with Falcon baseball

Braeden (left) and
Bronson Steiner will be part of the BGSU baseball team this spring. The two are battling
neurofibromatosis (NF), a genetic disease having a number of inherited conditions and carrying a high
risk of tumor formation, typically in the brain. (Photo provided by BGSU Athletic
Communications)

The Steiner brothers — Braeden and Bronson — finally got an opportunity to forget their everyday lives
and enjoy love, support and friendship from the Bowling Green State University baseball team.
The brothers were born with neurofibromatosis (NF), a genetic disease with a number of inherited
conditions including carrying a high risk of tumor formation, typically in the brain. Both boys have a
severe form of NF and have gone through multiple cycles of chemotherapy.
Their mother, Jodie, was born with NF, but did not learn of her condition until she was 11-years-old.
Because her NF was so mild and doctors told her she had a 50 percent chance of passing it on to her
children, she and her husband decided to have their first son.
When Braeden was diagnosed with an optic glioma brain tumor, Jodie was told her son would either go blind
or die.
“That wasn’t an option for us,” she said.
After dealing with this disease, and seeing Braeden’s positive progression, the family decided to have
another child.
“We felt that even though he would have NF, the possibility of Bronson having the same thing would be
impossible,” Jodie said.
Bronson was diagnosed with the same type of brain tumor, and put on a 60-week chemo cycle at the age of
two.
But it was all forgotten once they got into the Falcons’ locker room. The two brothers sat at a table
with their parents on each side of them and signed national letters of intent Wednesday.
“They have grown up probably more than your typical eight-year-old and 10-year-old because of the things
they’ve had to go through in life,” Jodie said. “So for them to be able to do things a typical child
gets to do is very important.”
The Steiner family and the Falcons met through the charity, Friends of Jaclyn Foundation (FOJ). The
foundation helps high schools, junior colleges and schools of all divisions of the NCAA ‘‘adopt’’
children with NF and other diseases.
FOJ is a nation-wide foundation that is getting more attention along with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, FOJ
President Denis Murphy said. Murphy said the Steiner brothers’ connection to the Falcon team will help
gain back some of the things they lost while being burdened by chemo and other treatments.
“Them coming here, they’re going to be motivated to run around and forget about the beast,” said Murphy.
“That’s the magic of FOJ.”
Falcon pitching coach Rick Blanc, whose wife is friends with Jodie, helped introduce the Steiner family
to the Falcons.
Blanc said the two new members of Falcons will get full access to the team and locker rooms, and will be
potentially “throwing out first pitches and being the bat boy … whatever the parents are comfortable
with,” said Blanc.
The Falcon players are looking forward to spending time with the boys.
Cody Apthorpe said having the boys will be a treat for the team and could help him academically.
“It’s very special (to have them here). We’ve been struggling so far, so this might give us some
motivation,” said Apthorpe. “We have had a rough season thus far, and knowing what they go through sort
of puts it into perspective.
“It’s especially cool for me. I’m a education major and getting to hang out with kids like Braeden, who
is in the fifth grade… I have gotten to talk to him about being in the classroom a lot, so I was able to
relate with him. We’re planning on having a lot of fun with them.”
Murphy hopes the friendship between the family and the BGSU baseball team will last their whole lives.

“There’s no chemotherapy, no radiation treatment as powerful as love, support and friendship,” Murphy
said. “That’s what the Falcons are going to give Braeden and Bronson, and it’s going to have an impact
on, not only the family, but what (the boys) will give them back, will be the greatest thing a coach can
give a player.”