ST. GEORGE — Hallee Tebbs has spent the majority of her cognizant life watching her father fighting brain cancer. On Friday night, her Crimson Cliffs softball teammates, along with rivals at Dixie joined the Tebbs family in that struggle.
The teams donned special shirts emblazoned on the front with the words “strike out cancer” and a personified cancer ribbon swinging a baseball bat. On the back, above the player numbers, the phrase “Root4Ricky” was printed. Ricky Tebbs, the man this was all for, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to his daughter.
“I feel really blessed and honored that they did this for me and for my daughter and my family,” Tebbs said. “It’s a really cool experience to rally around her and give her the support she needs. She’s been going through a hard time watching me go through my cancer fight and everything. It’s been really touching.”
Ricky has battled with a brain tumor for the past 10 years. He’s undergone numerous surgeries, several radiation therapies and is in the latter half of his fourth cycle of chemotherapy. He should be bald right now. Instead, he keeps his still full head of hair cut close and his facial hair to a short stubble.
As he goes through yet another round of treatment, the Crimson Cliffs softball team rallied around him and their teammate to show their support. Dixie High, the alma mater of both Ricky and his wife, joined in as well.
For a virtually new program still developing a community of its own, it was a natural step for Crimson Cliffs to make the gesture within their own circles. The two-year old school is watching its spring sports teams play their first full seasons after COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 season. But the question was: Why reach out into the public when someone near and dear needed support of their own?
“It’s our job to rally around them,” Crimson Cliffs head coach Kourtnie Judd said. “We have our own player and teammate that needs us to rally around them vs. reaching out into the community. This is our community. We feel like this is our opportunity to reach out to our community, which happens to be within our own softball family.”
Ricky had his last surgery in August. It required him staying awake to interact with doctors as they attempted to remove parts of the tumor near his brain stem. There was a high risk of paralysis of his left side. He’s lost some function of his left side; but ultimately, he came out of it successfully.
The now father of four was diagnosed with cancer roughly 10 years ago while he was still in training to become a physician’s assistant. He now works at the very cancer center where he is also being treated, helping those fighting the same or similar fight he is.
He told St. George News that working with fellow cancer patients gives him strength to push on.
“I do everything I can to try to get through it and put a good face on, take care of the patients going through what I’m going through,” Ricky Tebbs said.
The disease has reappeared three times over the past decade, meaning more treatments, more therapies after supposedly being beaten. The family has had to watch him go through the side effects of such treatments four times.
But the part that sticks out to his daughter Hallee Tebbs is how her father hasn’t let the cancer take his life away. He sported a smile and kicked back in his lawn chair after his first pitch and watched the Mustangs rally to a blowout victory. Hallee Tebbs said she wanted the game to be about showing her community that you can’t let these things consume you; you can press on and keep living.
“It’s to bring awareness about it and understand you can still live your life through illness,” she said. “I think that’s what my dad represents. He’s a fighter. He never gives up and he lives his life like he’s fine. I think that’s amazing.”
With the teams lined up on opposite baselines, her father was introduced over the public address system and threw, underhand of course, to his daughter behind home plate and took photos with both teams. He then kicked back and watched his daughter start her first game at the varsity level.
“We really are a family here,” Hallee Tebbs said. “I think that’s amazing. I think it also shows us as a community coming together and me and my family support it and appreciate all the help.”
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