A very brave boy visits the set of Jackie and Me

By Erica Davis

Zachary Sprader is a typical 12 year old in many ways. He loves all sports, especially basketball, baseball and football.  He even plays baseball on a state baseball league. One of his favorite all-time hobbies is Lego building.

On January 3, 2012 Zach was diagnosed with Early T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  He went through 7 months of intensive chemotherapy and some radiation to prepare him for a bone marrow transplant.  He received a bone marrow transplant on July 3rd, 2012.  Since then Zach has endured numerous complications as a result of the transplant and has been in and out of the hospital for extended periods of time.  He is on immunosuppressive therapy which compromises his immune system making him more susceptible to infections and viruses.  For this reason Zach is not allowed in public places including school, movies, ball games – you name it. 

Recently Zach's doctors agreed to release him from the hospital just so he and his family could attend a special dress rehearsal of First Stage’s JACKIE AND ME.  Zach’s mom Lisa was able to take a moment to tell us a bit more about Zach and what he had to say about his visit to First Stage.
Zach and his family at the Todd Wehr Theater

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a family right now?
Some of the biggest challenges we face as a family is first and foremost keeping Zach healthy, the financial hardships, and not being able to spend time together as a family.  

What would you like others to know about kids like Zach?
Everyone who is going through a journey like Zach’s have many similarities.  I think that it is important to remember that these journeys are long, tough and at times very frightening.  They begin with horrible news of a disease, go through months of treatments, receive life-saving bone marrow, and endure many more months of recovery and sometimes complications from transplant.  Then you hope and pray that the horrible disease won't come back.  

What else should we know about Zach?

Zachary is the bravest young man that I know.  His strength and courage to keep fighting everyday is what keeps us all going. No matter what challenge he faces or what complication is put in front of him, he never gives up hope. He finds the determination to keep fighting.

What did Zach think of Jackie and Me?He really liked how the play resembled the book "Jackie and Me."  He also liked how the director added his own research into the play as well.  He liked that a Rickie Weeks baseball card was used in the story.  I thought the play was outstanding and very profound.  It told such and incredible story.

What was Zach’s favorite part of the play?

The end of the play, when Joey talked about Jackie Robinson's life.

What about Jackie Robinson's story resonated with Zach and your family?
The whole production was just so touching, but what resonated most was how Jackie fought with his heart and strength and not with anger.  Zach realized that if Jackie didn't change the color barrier, life for Zach playing baseball would be different today, as would the world around him. 
Zach's favorite part of his visit was being able to meet Director Jeff Frank, and seeing firsthand what goes on behind the scenes.  After the show, all of the cast members signed a baseball and presented it to him as a keepsake.  He’s been carrying it with him ever since. 

Although Zach’s family is thankful that his Leukemia is in remission, his journey through the complications of his bone marrow transplant continues.

All of us at First Stage are rooting for this very special young man.  Go Zach!


1 comment:

James Fletcher said...

It was great having you and all of your family there. A small preview audience to be sure, but we were so appreciative of your feedback. All the best to you and your family.


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