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Santo Inspires Young Ballplayer With Diabetes

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Jack Reeg of Downers Grove. (CBS)

Jack Reeg of Downers Grove. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Cubs great Ron Santo inspired fans with his exuberant play, and many others with the courage he displayed in battling diabetes. He never really let it get him down.

But another ballplayer is showing the same kind of heart, CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.

The young athlete from Downers Grove is named Jack Reeg. He also has diabetes.  

Through all of his amazing plays and amazing games, Santo battled a serious disease. And after his playing days, when he lost one leg and then the other, he still fought it. He led dozens of fundraising marches for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Jack, 11, was in eight of those marches, even had his photo taken with his dad, two brothers and Ron Santo. 

Why does Jack admire Santo so much?

“He just is a good spirit, he’s high energy, happy all the time,  never down on himself,” the young man told Parker.

Jack’s mom, Julie, also met Santo just a few months before his death.

“And he said his work for JDRF and meeting all the kids is what kept him so young,” she said.

Her son said a prayer Friday morning when he learned the news that Santo had passed away at age 70.

What’s the most important thing Jack learned from his idol?

“To keep going in life. Things drag you down — pull back up, keep going … never quit.”

Reeg says his disease is “just another obstacle.”

He also knows there are others fighting the same battle out there, including a young quarterback named Jay Cutler.      

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