PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With seven hours till game time at PNC Park, the grounds crew was already bustling with activity. They’re preparing the field for the evening’s game. But it’s about to get a whole lot busier.
Crossing the Allegheny, over the Clemente Wall, the Allegheny Health Network’s LifeFlight chopper settles onto the outfield grass.
Pirates’ star Andrew McCutchen strides out to meet it. For a young passenger named Cameron Pittman, it’s the surprise of a lifetime.
“Twelve-year-old Cameron from Altoona, Pennsylvania, is an avid Pirates fan,” says Dana Antkowiak, marketing manager for the local Make-A-Wish chapter. “He loves baseball.”
She says Cameron, who has Hodgkin’s lymphoma, never expected this.
“Cameron thought he was just taking a brief tour of the city of Pittsburgh, and while he was in the helicopter the pilot said, ‘You’re going to PNC Park later, right? Let’s just go there now.’ And so he had no idea he would be landing on the field, and greeted by Andrew McCutchen,” Antkowiak said.
She says it’s not the first time the All-Star centerfielder has lent a hand to the foundation, which grants wishes to kids with life-threatening illnesses.
“Andrew McCutchen has a really special gift of making our kids feel so comfortable, and kind of forgetting that there’s all this hoopla around the situation, and just having a wonderful, one-on-one interaction with him,” Antkowiak says.
“I was surprised,” the young fan admits.
Finally, Cameron and his new best buddy escape into the cool sanctuary inside PNC Park, where they had lunch together. Later on, he will be the Buccos’ honorary batboy.
“A really great surprise for a deserving kid,” Antkowiak says.