DETROIT — Gavin Rupp, a 13-year-old Nationals fan who was invited to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park earlier this month, passed away on Tuesday after a three-year battle with brain cancer. A Nationals’ spokesperson confirmed Rupp’s passing.
Rupp spent most of his July 5 visit to Nationals Park in the Nationals’ dugout talking with outfielder Bryce Harper, and the young boy made quite an impression on Harper.
About two weeks later, during the Home Run Derby, Major League Baseball asked everyone in attendance to stand up for a moment, with the name of a loved one battling cancer on a Stand Up 2 Cancer card, as part of the league’s partnership with Stand Up 2 Cancer.
Harper did. And on his placard was the name of Gavin Rupp.
“Deeply saddened by the news I received shortly after the game!” Harper wrote on Twitter, after hearing of Rupp’s passing from a team official. “Gavin Rupp is a hero not only to me, but to many around! My condolences go out to his family, and he will forever be in my heart and my mind! Much love buddy and I will be playing for you! #CANCERSUCKS”
Rupp had battled glioblastoma cancer since 2011, but in June doctors informed the Rupp family that the cancer had returned and was inoperable.
The Nationals were made aware of Rupp’s diagnosis after he participated in Kyle’s Kamp, a youth baseball tournament that raises money to support pediatric cancer and care at the Children’s National Medical Center.
According to their website, proceeds from Kyle’s Kamp “will directly help children in their fight to survive cancer. For every gift, 80 percent will be invested in research for new diagnostic tools and therapies in oncology and 20 percent will be used to support patients during treatment giving them access to medications, transportation, meals and other basic needs.”
“The Nationals are saddened to hear that we lost one of our biggest fans, Gavin Rupp, to cancer earlier today,” the team said in a statement. “We hope that the Rupp family finds comfort in the many happy memories they shared with Gavin, including his time at Nationals Park where he became an inspiration to us all.”
For anyone wishing to donate to Kyle’s Kamp, information can be found here.