Minnesota Sports

Striking Out Cancer - Part Two

Todd Oakes a candidate for Man of the Year award

Striking Out Cancer - Part Two

MINNEAPOLIS (WKBT) - For the last 28 years, Todd Oakes has dedicated his life to coaching others.

"My joy comes from going to the bullpen and working with the guys," he said.

But in 2012, he had to coach himself.

"It was a real challenge to walk the talk. As a coach, if I'm sitting there talking to kids about perseverance and integrity and mental toughness and sucking it up and daily goals, here was my chance battling leukemia of, it takes all those same qualities to fight that fight."

The fight is in Todd's rear-view mirror; his cancer is in remission. But now he's out to fight for others.

Todd is nominated for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Man of the Year Award, a ten week fundraising competition to raise money for those still fighting.

"My intent of this whole thing isn't to get a little plaque that says LLS Man of the Year. I told the people at LLS, when they asked me to do this, that that's not my motivation. But my motivation is to raise money for cancer research."

The Golden Gophers baseball program, as they've been all along, is standing behind him. They're doing their part to help raise money.

"When he first came to me with it, I said what a wonderful idea. Let's get our program involved. Let's get our players involved," said Golden Gophers Head Baseball Coach John Anderson.

"If it just helps one person hear the word remission, like he got to, he said it's all worth it," said outfielder Bobby Juan.

Even former Gophers are pitching in for the campaign.

Todd is still close with Minnesota Twins reliever Glen Perkins, who played at the University of Minnesota in 2003 and 2004.

"He's a friend but as much a father figure to me," Perkins said.

"When he got nominated, I was in his office and he had said, kind of coming up with plans and whatnot. I said well I'll donate, and I'm sure I can get the Twins to pitch in and match, and the players association will match donations as well. I said if I can donate 2,500 bucks, it's going to turn into 7,500 really quick."

"He doesn't like being in the spotlight, and he said when he got nominated, that I want to finish second. I want to finish a dollar behind the person that wins it because I want to raise as much money as I can and as much money as needed but just not enough to win."

Whether or not he finishes first, the Spring Grove native has won, in coaching himself, coaching others, and giving back.

"To me, that's what life is all about, is giving back and remembering where you came from," Todd said.

To donate to Todd's cause, click here.

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