ORANGE PARK - In a small gesture of friendship that became an event of celebration for an area baseball athlete, the St. Johns Country Day School athletic community staged a Home Run Derby on Sat., …
ORANGE PARK - In a small gesture of friendship that became an event of celebration for an area baseball athlete, the St. Johns Country Day School athletic community staged a Home Run Derby on Sat., Dec. 17 as a fundraiser for an Oakleaf area baseball player, Isaiah Carrasco.
According to St. Johns Country Day School senior soccer player Lauren Mateo, a childhood friend for most of her life and a neighbor, the tragedy of Carrasco’s plight from the car wreck inspired her to do something for her friend in response to his condition.
“This past year or two, I have not been as close to him as I think I’ve should,” said Mateo, whose mother Rachel organized the Home Run Derby at St. Johns. “He played baseball at Oakleaf; just a great kid.”
On June 12, 2022, Carrasco, 17, an Oakleaf High School senior baseball player, was involved in a car accident that has left Carrasco in critical condition, surviving coma relapses, but, according to family and friends, not diluting his will to return to baseball.
“I don’t know much about the accident, but I do know that it was really really bad,” said Mateo. “I was at a soccer camp when my mom called me to tell me.”
Carrasco, also a player for the Storm Baseball of Florida, was in New Orleans undertaking some testing and therapy attempts to reconnect his ability to speak and communicate via electronic devices.
Holly Breen, also a baseball mom with her son, Charles, a teammate of Isaiah’s through years of Little League and age group baseball.
“Charles and Isaiah have been together since four years old with both moving from Argyle to Oakleaf at 10 years old,” said Breen. “They both played for the Oakleaf junior varsity under coach Jason Mauloni.”
Breen noted that Lauren Mateo was the driving force for the Home Run Derby as a tribute to Isaiah’s baseball.
“She did all the legwork to make it happen,” said Breen. “Her and her mom, Rachel, got the ball moving.”
The fundraiser was to add to a GoFundMe made for Carrasco to help cover medical expenses with Carrasco attempting to recover.”
Breen spoke of therapy involving a Hyperbaric chamber in New Orleans that tries to reconnect patients suffering from TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury, from high impact trauma to the skull. The TBI is a frequent occurrence in car crashes where the brain strikes the hard bone of the skull and damages brain structures and soft tissue.
“He does a certain amount of dives like a scuba diver would who had the BENDS, or ascend too fast to the surface,” said Breen. “It’s quite fascinating, but the family is living in the Ronald McDonald House as he goes to the hospital.”
Breen noted that the therapy is having some success with Carrasco able to communicate with familiar faces with eye movements.
“Right now, he has a special wheelchair and he does extensive physical therapy,” said Breen. “They have noticed the Hyperbaric chamber is helping, but it’s expensive.”
Breen said when the accident occurred in June and Carrasco wound up in a long surgery bout, the Oakleaf baseball community was in full force in the hospital until near 1 a.m.
“That night that it happened, about 10 minutes after it was all figured out, we were at Orange Park Medical Center and he went in at about 10 a.m.,” said Breen. “His baseball friends stayed all night.”
Rose and Eddie Carrasco, Isaiah’s parents, sent a message to the gathering; read by Breen, from a New Orleans hospital where Isaiah was getting therapy and a new treatment to restore his body and mind.
“Thank you to the St. Johns Country Day School community and the gathering is a prime example of Mother Teresa’s message - ‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.’”
The Isaiah Carrasco GoFundMe link is: https://gofund.me/548aa7b3.
According to Rachel Mateo, the Home Run Derby raised $2500 to add to the Isaiah Carrasco GoFundMe account is now at near $18,000 toward a goal of $75,000.