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SALT LAKE CITY — It’s a beautiful sunny day in June. Clint Bauer is watching his 7-year-old son Gunner play baseball. These are moments Clint has always looked forward to. He spent many hours during his childhood playing the game he loves.
“That was what we did," he said. "If you went to the park you took your mitts. Wherever you went you took your mitts."
Now he can pass along that same love for the game to his son.
“Ever since I heard he played baseball I really wanted to do it,” Gunner said.
It’s the last game of the season for Gunner and Clint realizes it may be the last chance he has to watch his son play.
“Make sure you have time for the people you love," Clint said. "You don’t know the last time you’ll see them."
All that time spent on the diamond growing up started to pay off in high school for Clint. He was a star pitcher at Grantsville High School and once tossed a no-hitter. He was talented enough that he earned an opportunity to play baseball at what was then known as Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho).
Baseball would have to wait as he made the decision to serve a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before enrolling.
He was serving for less than six months in Brazil when he felt something strange in his hip. After further examination doctors discovered what was causing the discomfort.
It was cancer.
Make sure you have time for the people you love. You don't know the last time you'll see them.
He was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called chondrosarcoma. A large tumor was growing in his pelvis and it required a portion of his pelvis had to be removed.
“Realizing that the dream of playing baseball was pretty much over was pretty discouraging,” he recalls. “You’re out serving a mission, feeling like you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, and boom! So, there was some depressing days but the blessing I’ve received from that is an amazing family. I would do it 10 times over.”
After returning home to get treatment for cancer he would soon meet Kamille. They got married and now have three children Neiska, Gunner and Wyatt.
“In a weird, sick way we are grateful for cancer,” Kamille said. “It’s brought a lot of heartache but it’s also brought a lot of joy.”
The cancer returns
Clint lived cancer-free for many years but in 2011 he suddenly started gaining weight and couldn’t lose it no matter what diet and exercise he tried. He decided to see a doctor where they made a grim discovery. The cancer was back with a vengeance.
Doctors removed over 20 pounds of cancerous bone tumors from his body.
He underwent treatment and chemotherapy to aggressively fighting the cancer, but in May 2014 his doctors told him the news a person never wants to hear: The cancer is terminal, and he was given about a year to live.
It was devastating news that Clint and Kamille had to share with their three children.
“I know he’s always going to be with me even when he’s gone,” said his daughter Neiska.
Since receiving the news they have somehow found the strength to carry on.
“We all just looked at each other and said, 'OK, we’re going to live each day and each moment and really try to appreciate what we have,'” Kamille says.
Cherish each remaining moment
The Bauers have not allowed the bad news keep them from enjoying what could be their final days together as a family.
Thanks to the Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation they were able to spend a few days in Hawaii this summer.
There are a number of other organizations and members of the community that have provided support as the Bauers go through a very difficult time.
The Salt Lake Bees ia one organization that gave the Bauer family an evening they will never forget.
“My mom told me someone on my team was going to throw out the first pitch and I was wondering who,” Gunner sais. “When she told me I was going to be doing it I was really excited.”
Gunner and his family received a tour of the ballpark. His team was part of the pregame festivities and the family was lucky enough to meet Josh Hamilton of the Los Angeles Angels, who was in Salt Lake City on an injury rehab assignment.
But the highlight of the evening was the first pitch.
Gunner and Clint were introduced to the crowd over the P.A. system. Gunner stepped onto the mound, and with his father catching behind the plate, he threw a strike.
It was a moment they will cherish forever.
“Priceless moments,” is how Clint describes the experience. “It was so surreal. Now watching it back it’s like, man, I can’t believe we had a chance to do that. That’s so neat. I’m glad I was healthy enough too. We need to do more of that.”
Live a life with no regret
"I see great things in baseball, It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism, tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set, repair those losses and be a blessing to us.” — Walt Whitman
Cancer took away Clint’s ability to play baseball but it couldn’t take away his love for the game. That passion will now live on through his son long after he has passed on.
He enjoys every moment as he watches Gunner play baseball.
The news that Clint’s cancer is terminal was especially difficult for Gunner but the support of his baseball team made a difference.
The team shows its support with a cheer.
“1,2,3, Warriors!!!,” can be heard near the dugout before and after each game.
“You’re just trying to find that foundation block to stand on when everything is ripped out from under you," Clint said. "So it’s nice for baseball to one of those blocks."
Clint continues to fight like a warrior. He is still undergoing chemotherapy treatment in an effort to extend his life as long as possible. Despite the sickness that comes with his treatments he is enjoying many important family moments like a trip to Bear Lake and Gunner’s 8th birthday. He was determined to live to see Gunner turn 8 and be baptized. Clint will celebrate his 34th birthday Tuesday and will have the opportunity to baptize Gunner.
He has important advice for all of us no matter what type adversity we may face in life.
“None of us have an expiration date on our foot and no one knows when it’s their time," he said. "Fill your day with everything you enjoy doing, the people you enjoy being with and make sure you don’t have regrets when you go to bed at night.”