The Nixon Strong Baseball tournament brings youth teams together to battle cancer


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SOUTH JORDAN — In South Jordan, the Nixon Strong Baseball tournament is bringing teams together for something bigger than the game.

On Friday, the sun was out with a slight breeze. Add in the crack of a bat, and baseball: There is nothing quite like it.

Heading into Day 2 of the tournament, on paper, 12-year-old Korver Johnson and his mom, Nikki, have the usual big day ahead. Korver is playing second base, and his mom is rooting him on.

One of the youth baseball teams practices before their game for the Nixon Strong baseball tournament. The tournament is in its fifth annual year and is in honor of Nixon, a little boy who loved baseball and lost his life to cancer in 2019.
One of the youth baseball teams practices before their game for the Nixon Strong baseball tournament. The tournament is in its fifth annual year and is in honor of Nixon, a little boy who loved baseball and lost his life to cancer in 2019. (Photo: Istvan Bartos, KSL-TV)

They will tell you this tournament, though, is different.

"Nixon was definitely one of my best friends. He's just been my best friend, and so this tournament makes it so much fun for me," Korver said.

The tournament is in its fifth annual year and is in honor of Nixon Whatcott, a little boy who loved baseball and lost his life to cancer in 2019.

The Nixon Strong Foundation is bringing over 65 teams ages 8 through 13 together.

"This is so much more than a game," said Nikki Johnson, Korver's mom.

Nixon Whatcott plays baseball on the field before losing his life to cancer. The Nixon Strong Foundation is bringing over 65 teams ages 8 and under 13  together.
Nixon Whatcott plays baseball on the field before losing his life to cancer. The Nixon Strong Foundation is bringing over 65 teams ages 8 and under 13 together. (Photo: Nixon’s Family)

This is especially true when you are playing with someone else in mind.

In addition to all money raised going toward the Nixon Strong Foundation, every team in the tournament is paired up with someone whose game on earth has ended, or with a cancer fighter.

Karver's team is playing for Paxton, who is up to bat against Stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer.

In December 2023, Paxton was diagnosed with cancer that had spread into his lymph nodes, kidney, and bone marrow. But, that has not stopped him from stepping on the T-ball field.

"Gives him something to look forward to when he's not sitting at the hospital. He was getting out there making plays and hanging out with his buddies," said Josh Szem and Candice Washburn, Paxton's parents.

Paxton wears his team uniform and holds an umbrella. He is also battling against cancer after a 2023 diagnosis.
Paxton wears his team uniform and holds an umbrella. He is also battling against cancer after a 2023 diagnosis. (Photo: Istvan Bartos, KSL-TV)

Nixon's mom, Janessa Whatcott, knows how support hits a home run every single time for families going up against their biggest rival yet.

"I hope that baseball teams just are able to connect with other kids and just realize how lucky they are to be out here playing the game that they love. And for the cancer kids, I hope they know they're loved. Like, there's people that care about 'em and they are cheering the on, and they're not alone in the fight," Whatcott said.

"It's a great experience for both of 'em," Candice Washburn added.

Paxton's parents said Paxton has a bone marrow appointment on Friday. The tournament is still going Nixon Strong and runs into Saturday.

The tournament is already in the works for next year.

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