Cancer survivors: It’s your chance to throw the first pitch at a Cyclones game

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Talk about relief pitchers!

A local do-gooder is looking for cancer survivors to throw out the first pitch at a July 16 Cyclones game to help him raise money to fight the disease. Twenty-seven survivors hurled the ball over home plate during last year’s Relay for Life game, and the organizer wants a bullpen of no less than 50 this year to inspire hope and motivate onlookers, he said.

“It’s spreading awareness, but showing us that they don’t sit back and let cancer control their lives,” said Gillette. “It was a very moving moment both visually and spiritually. This year, I want to get more survivors to be part of the ceremony.”

Enduring aces will get a free ticket to the game if they step up to the mound, said Gillette, who hopes the ceremony will show the breadth of people that cancer afflicts.

“The disease can impact anyone and affects so many in the community that it’s important to rally together and show support,” said Gillette.

“Whether it’s someone in a wheelchair, seniors, kids, having them all out on the field at the same time to see the full range of people dealing with it and celebrate together — it really shows you just how many people are affected by cancer and it doesn’t discriminate against anyone. Everyone is affected.”

Gillette’s Relay for Life for Brooklyn team reserved 1,000 bleacher for the game — he’s selling them for $10 a pop, and the Clones are letting his fund-raising group keep half the money.

Plus Gillette — known as “Zumba Daddy” for throwing mass classes for the Latin fitness craze — has organized a free, on-field exercise before the 6 pm game.

And Brooklyn’s boys of summer will show their solidarity by donning purple jerseys — the official Relay for Life color — with the names of those who have been affected by the disease on their backs. The whole game and ceremony will be a moving and spiritual event, said Gillette.

“The first-pitch ceremony, that’s just going to make the biggest impact,” he said. “We’re lucky to get partners like the Cyclones — no pun intended, it’s a home run.”

Relay for Life Day at MCU Park [1904 Surf Ave. in Coney Island]. July 16 at 4 pm. $10. Contact organizer Joe Gillette at or (646) 894–3568.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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