CHICAGO (CBS) — Jim Hickey, a former Marine from New Jersey, made the decision to walk from Wrigley Field to Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, for a girl he hadn’t even met.
Lydia Boyer, from Waterloo, Illinois, is a six-year-old who was diagnosed with brain and spine cancer last year.
“I found out about her on Facebook, and I decided I was going to do something for her, and this is it,” Hickey said.
But that’s not the only thing Hickey has done for Lydia.
Last Wednesday, she threw out the first pitch at the Cardinals game. Hickey was the one who put that plan into motion and helped orchestrate the event.
“It was a great experience, it was magical,” Hickey said. “The whole stadium gave out a big cheer for her when she threw out the first pitch, and that’s creating awareness for her, as well.”
Hickey began the 300-mile walk on Saturday, after the Cubs played the Cardinals. He says he selected Busch Stadium as his end point for a few reasons. Lydia is from Illinois, and Hickey also wanted to play on that Cubs-Cardinals rivalry, which is known as one of the most bitter rivalries in Major League Baseball.
Plus, “I figured I’d start at the home of the World Series champions.”
Hickey and Lydia have since met in person.
“She’s always smiling, she’s always polite, she’s never complaining about pain. She’s one of the kindest, nicest kids you’d ever want to meet,” he said of the little girl. “You can see what she’s going through, but from her demeanor and how she acts, you’d never know it.”
Hickey is no stranger to taking on these types of adventures. He says he has walked across the country five other times in honor of loved ones. This time, however, the goal is strictly to raise awareness.
“To go through the effort to help somebody like this, I know I’ll have the platform to get more people involved to help Lydia and to help other children, as well.”
Hickey expects to touch Busch Stadium in two weeks.
“I think what would be ideal. Since I’m walking from Wrigley to Busch, I’m starting when the Cardinals play the Cubs. If I can get down there by September 28, the Cardinals are playing the Cubs at Busch.”
That would certainly bring him full-circle.
“She’s a fighter. She’s a tough little kid and I know she’s going to make it. And this is to raise awareness to help Lydia.”