(Franklin, GA) — A Heard County baseball player was recognized last week for his hard work, determination, and resolve by the by Positive Athlete Georgia, a subsidiary of Celebrate Positive LLC, which promotes the benefits of positivity to young athletes around the world.
The organization is led by Hines Ward, former Forest Park High School, University of Georgia and Pittsburgh Steelers football star who formed Positive Athlete with local businessman Scott Pederson.
Starting sophomore second baseman Caden Raines was chosen as the Most Positive baseball player in the West Georgia region after battling back from a rare illness he was suddenly stricken with last fall.
Caden Raines (Photo: Gary Jones)
He was nominated by his head coach Trent Bianco.
Caden was hospitalized at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta last October where he was diagnosed with a rare disorder known as Stevens–Johnson syndrome.
It is believed the condition may have resulted from a reaction to an acne medication Raines had been taking for a few weeks.
Raines was fine one day and in critical condition and unable to move within 24 hours.
He wasn’t even sure he would survive much less be able to return to the baseball team this spring.
He not only bounced back — he has been one of leaders for the Braves this season on a team that will compete in the Sweet 16 round of the state playoffs later this week.
Raines is batting .369 with five doubles, 22 RBI’s and a team high seven stolen bases.
“Caden hasn’t missed a beat at practice and has looked every bit of the player we thought he would be coming into this year,” says Coach Bianco. “To think a just couple months prior he was fighting for his life with a rare disease and now is our starting varsity second baseman is nothing short of a miracle.”
Despite the awesome baseball comeback, Bianco says just as inspiring was the way Caden handled his schoolwork during the situation.
“One of the most amazing things that Caden had to overcome is that he missed over a month of school, yet he worked tirelessly with his teachers and by himself to complete all work and ended up making the A/B honor roll! It’s really hard to imagine someone not being able to feed them self and being in extreme pain and still making the A/B honor roll,” says Bianco.
“Caden is a fantastic person and is very deserving of this nomination considering everything he has went through. He is a natural leader for our team through his hard work.”
Caden himself says there is no way to describe the feeling of being back on the field with his team.
“I didn’t know if I would live through it,” says Raines. “I honestly was just hoping I would get to be a part of the team this year in whatever that role might be — but working hard to push through to get back on the field with my teammates and coaches is the best feeling ever.”
Raines says Coach Bianco has been a vital component in his recovery and return to the diamond.
“There’s really not enough words I can say about Coach B — he’s not only taught me about the game of baseball but he’s teaching all of us to become better men,” Raines states.
“When I was in the hospital he was one of my biggest supporters from checking on me everyday to making the drive to visit me and making a video. To have him nominate me for this award means a lot to me — he’ll never know how much he and all my coaches have made an impact on my life and the life of my teammates — they’re not just making us better ball players but teaching us life lessons.”
Caden and the Braves will travel to Dade County this Thursday afternoon for a best-of-three Sweet 16 state playoff series with a first pitch at 4:30. A third game if necessary would be played at Dade Friday at 4:30 PM.
Heard High coaches visiting with Caden in the hospital last fall (L-R):Gavin Porter, Trent Bianco, Ryan Duffey, D.J. Curbow, and Shane Lasseter