Mason Williams of the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (New York Yankees AAA-affiliate) co-designed the #BeYou t-shirt to benefit the Choroideremia Research Foundation (CRF) and his friend, Mark DeVoe, 12, who has the rare retinal disease that causes progressive vision loss. The campaign ran for two weeks (7/24-8/7) and raised over $1,275 - surpassing the campaign's goal of $1,000 raised for the CRF.
Mason met Mark during the summer of 2015, and Mark has since helped serve as an inspiration to Mason and many other minor leaguers as he fights for his vision daily. The campaign saw great support from a number of social influencers, including many of Mason's teammates on the Yankees, including Aaron Hicks, Tyler Wade, Tyler Austin. Manager Joe Girardi even sported an Angels for Mark T-shirt prior to the campaign, and other baseball legends got in on the action, too.
The campaign also enjoyed great support from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre organization. The team provided promotional support during games on their jumbotron and in the concourse, shared Mason's efforts on their official website and social media, and even had Mason and Mark's story featured on the cover of their game program.
VIDEO: Mason and Markie playing catch pre-game getting loose for their TWO TV interviews.
VIDEO: Mark DeVoe hurls in a heater when throwing out the first pitch of the SWB RR game (8/3/17)
Choroideremia (CHM) is a rare inherited disorder that causes progressive loss of vision due to degeneration of the choroid and retina. It occurs almost exclusively in males. The first symptom, most commonly noticed in childhood, is night blindness.
As the disease progresses, there is loss of vision. Loss of acuity, depth perception, color perception and an increase in the severity of night blindness also occur during this progression. Eventually, photoreceptor cells also degenerate, and as a result, vision is lost permanently. There is currently no known cure for CHM. FDA clinical trials have begun, though the family is still awaiting word on inclusion for minors like Mark who is still only 12 years old.
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