Frankie LaSasso rings the bell
HAMMONTON—Frankie LaSasso, a local 9-year-old who has become an inspiration to many in the region, celebrated his final chemotherapy treatment last week by “ringing the bell” during a Philadelphia Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park on April 12.
Earlier in the day, LaSasso received his final treatment for leukemia at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 856 days after his battle with cancer began in 2020.
“We’re all so excited for him. He’s handled everything so well during all of this,” Frankie’s father, Frank LaSasso IV said.
In December of 2020, the younger LaSasso was diagnosed with a form T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia. Two years, four months and five days later, he celebrated his final chemo treatment with family and friends at a special day with the Phillies.
Prior to the Phillies game against the Miami Marlins, Frankie met Phillies pitcher Jose Alvarado, who gave him a glove, and Marlins’ pitcher Devin Smeltzer, a South Jersey native who battled cancer himself as a youth.
When he was nine, Smeltzer met former Phillies star Chase Utley, and he was eager to spend some time with the LaSassos last week.
Smeltzer played catch with Frankie and his brother, Gino, and spoke of his relationship with the Hammonton youngster.
“He’s [LaSasso] a lefty like me. he plays a little bit of first base and outfield and pitches, and [it was] super cool to be able to pass that torch and hopefully inspire him to keep going,” Smeltzer told mlb.com.
Smeltzer has been in contact with the LaSasso family throughout Frankie’s fight.
“They share a bond of having been through childhood cancer. They’re both left-handed, I think that’s special to Frankie,” Frank LaSasso IV said.
Throughout his treatments, Frankie has been active and continued playing both football and baseball.
“He hasn’t let it bother him. There were some tough days, but he’s had a great attitude and he’s been playing. He’s pitching and the other day he had a big hit,” LaSasso IV said.
More than 170 family members and friends attended last week’s game to celebrate with Frankie.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with all the support from day one. It’s been amazing the way the communities in Hammonton, where we live and Ocean City, where I work have come together and just supported us through this entire process. We’re so thankful to everyone,” LaSasso IV said.
Earlier this week, Hammonton High School’s baseball and softball teams hosted Ocean City in the third annual “Fight Like Frankie” showcase. Proceeds will go to the fight against childhood cancers.