At a spring baseball game against Missouri Southern State University, there were two starting pitchers, rather than one, who took the mound. And both were in elementary school.

Peyton and Bearett Vanderpool, brothers from Carl Junction, Missouri, each got to stand with the team during the National Anthem and throw a ceremonial first pitch, followed by time in the dugout with the team, thanks to the PSU Love Your Melon Campus Crew.

Peyton, 9, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain and spinal cord cancer three years ago and has been battling it ever since.

Bearett, who is 10, was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and has undergone serious corrective surgeries; he now wears leg braces and walking is challenging.

“He used to be able to run and play, but now he has a lot harder time getting around,” said their mother, Morgan Vanderpool. “He was very sports oriented but can’t participate now.”

Love Your Melon Campus Crew, a local chapter of a national philanthropy group that provides experiences for children battling cancer, matched the boys with the PSU Baseball Team last fall for practice. Then, they sweetened the deal: they worked with the baseball team to make the brothers become honorary members.

The brothers received PSU shirts and hats, courtesy of Assistant Coach Aaron Meade, and spent time with the team and the coaching staff in the dugout.

“To me, it makes me grateful and thankful that these college-aged kids are taking the time to invest in my kids, to give them something exciting and happy to look forward to,” their mom said.

Former Head Coach Tom Myers said it’s difficult to imagine what the Vanderpools have been through. But the team did lose 22-year-old Jake Clark in March after his own battle with cancer.

“When our players have been through the loss of a close friend, it’s impactful to our players to know they can share stories, memories, and really understand the value of friendships young and old, and how we can impact lives of other people just for a moment,” Myers said.