LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

MATTHEWS, N.C. -- Little Leaguers are going to bat in Matthews for a little boy most of them have never even met.

Three-year-old Harlan Sullins has fought cancer for more than half of his life. The first tumors doctors found are gone, but a dozen lesions have sprouted up in their place. He has undergone more than 60 radiation treatments, four rounds of chemotherapy, and two surgeries the most doctors say his little body can handle.

He s still fighting, and this weekend, youth baseball teams are rallying to support him.

The 3rd Annual DVD Charity Baseball Tournament named for Drew Van Dyke, its original beneficiary plays throughout the weekend at MARA ball fields in Matthews.

Organizers hope to raise $11,000 or more to help Harlan s family, and donate to Make-A-Wish and the Tisch Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation at Duke.

Dawn Van Dyke, Drew s mother, remembers what the tournament meant to her family two years ago, when it was first organized on Drew s behalf. There were 15 teams signed up.

She recalled that he was 8 when he first noticed something was wrong while playing baseball. He couldn t see things clearly.

Two trips to the eye doctor led to an MRI, which confirmed terrible news.

There was a tumor in his mid-brain, said Van Dyke, something they couldn't take out.

That first tournament uplifted Drew s family as he endured dozens of radiation treatments.

The baseball community is one big family, she Van Dyke. We're all parents, we have children that we love, and we like to see them win and off the field.
The next year the tournament benefited a little girl named Kate, who was just 5 when she was diagnosed. Chemotherapy and radiation stole her silky blonde curls, but not her smile. Twenty-four teams came.

At last year s tournament, she showed up after a clean scan, and threw out the first pitch to who else Drew.

Organizers wanted to keep the momentum going.

It's a great example of the local community pulling together to support a family that's struggling with some real issues, said Cliff Boyd, president of the Matthews Athletic & Recreation Association, or MARA.

This year, 39 teams signed up to play and organizers had to turn some away because they ran out of room. Saturday morning, Harlan s mom wheeled him out to the diamond in a red, Radio Flyer wagon so he could toss the first pitch. Of course, it was to Kate.

But Harlan is still fighting. His mother Jacki said his prognosis is month to month. She s not even sure what that means. She IS sure how she feels about the teams playing on her son s behalf.

Words will never do justice for the gratitude our little family has for you, she wrote on Harlan s facebook page, Harlan the Hero.

Kate and Drew were right there with him, playing, hugging, sharing. And celebrating victories of their own.

Kate s last scan in October was clear, and Drew s latest scan on Thursday shows he s still cancer free.

Now they re going to bat for their new buddy, cheering Harlan around the bases with 39 teams, and one hit at a time.

Read or Share this story: http://www.wcnc.com/story/news/local/2014/07/21/11809188/