COLUMBIA, SC — Brayden Sox loves baseball and the Gamecocks. He aspires to play on the diamond as a pro one day. But something happened that could derail those dreams. On June 20, 2016 Brayden was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia which is a blood cancer disorder. His father Jamie says things weren't the same.
"Your whole world changes. We want from all-star baseball to fighting cancer so that's our new fight."
In response to the diagnosis the Sox family started the Pray For Bray initiative to help support Brayden as he undergoes a three year treatment.
During this time USC basketball star A'ja Wilson was volunteering at the Palmetto Children's Hospital. In time she developed a bond with Brayden and Maryiah Fersner and became their mentors.
"She's been a mentee ever since we reached out to her on Twitter and next thing you know they've been best friends," Jamie said.
Just days before becoming the top pick in the WNBA draft to the Las Vegas Aces last week A'ja decided to join Brayden and Maryiah's fight against cancer. On April 9 she announced that she will donate a portion of her first WNBA check to her Team Palmetto Health You Caring Campaign.
"I was amazed that she was going to do that and help fund research for childhood cancer. It motivates me a lot," Brayden said at A'ja's farewell party at Wild Wing Cafe.
The Sox have received all kinds of support and prayers from various athletes and coaches from the Gamecock community like Will Muschamp, Dawn Staley and the USC baseball and women's basketball team. But when A'ja decided to step in raise money for Bradyen and Maryiah's fight against cancer the response has been undeniable.
"I was kind of ecstatic," Jamie said. "Because she had reached out to us and said they were going to do a YouCaring video and wanted our consent and we were fine with it and next thing you know it raised $10,000.
"They have inspired me so much," A'ja said. "That's really the reason why I do it. These kids inspire me. They are our future."
Being the number one pick in the WNBA draft is great but giving back to kids in need feels just as good to A'ja. After bonding with Brayden and Maryiah A'ja feels it's her mission in life to help the youth.
"Giving back in that way and also helping kids with learning disabilities is definitely something that's going to be a part of me," A'ja said.
During the NCAA Tournament A'ja revealed her battle with dyslexia and her struggles with the learning disorder at a young age. She is all about helping the next generation.
"I love children. They're our future. I know I had a lot of mentors and role models and so I would love to be involved in their lives."
After reaching their initial goal very quickly A'ja and Team Palmetto Health have raised the goal to $15,000.
"I don't think people thought we could reach it that fast so I'm super excited to see everyone get involved and hopefully it can continue," A'ja said.
If you want to donate to A'ja's cause to help Brayden and Maryiah and kids like them go here-https://www.youcaring.com/palmettohealthchildrenshospitalfoundation-1160603
Pray For Bray Page