NVRQT & Illinois Baseball Academy

Article as it appeared in Daily North Shore by DNS Contributor • March 30, 2018

Illinois Baseball Academy and Jon Lester’s NVRQT charity on March 3 hosted their first-ever fundraiser in support of Pediatric Cancer.  Here are highlights and photos from the event:

  • Over 200 North Shore kids and families enjoyed the classic baseball film, The Sandlot at the Wilmette Movie Theatre. 
  • VIP event tickets sold out within 2 days  
  • Raffle prizes included a Cubs “Dream Day” package, signed Jon Lester memorabilia, private hitting lessons from a Cubs bench coach, private hitting lesson from a former Cubs pitcher, concert tickets at Wrigley Field, Cubs game tickets and much more
  • Over 3,200 raffle tickets were sold 
  • Attendees were all provided with NVRQT wristbands and rally patches upon exiting the event
  • Local event sponsors included:  Lawrence Deans Bakery, Mid-Central Printing, Done Deal Promotions, U Dawg U and Illinois Bone and Joint Institute
  • Jeri Wilson, Executive Director of Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation attended the event (from CA!) and was incredibly grateful for the support:  ““Jon and Farrah Lester are grateful to the Illinois Baseball Association and the North Shore Community for their dedicated support of NVRQT.  You are helping us strikeout cancer across the country by joining us as a fellow warrior in our work to find a cure.”  Jeri Wilson Executive Director of the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation/NVRQT
  • The event raised close to $10,000




Article as it appeared in the NWI Times | Jim Peters Times Columnist | May 12, 2017

Justin Pellicori, a senior at Hanover Central who plays baseball, knows firsthand the meaning of NVRQT.

For every dad who coaches their son in Little League, there’s a mom.

She cheers from right up against the fence, makes sure the juice boxes are ready and waits by the dugout for a hug after the game, win or lose. For Justin Pellicori, that was Linda Pellicori.

Justin grew up playing in St. John. He also played travel ball. Linda wasn’t a huge baseball buff, but it’s what her son did, so she embraced it.

“She loved to watch Justin play ball,” Joe Pellicori said. “She didn’t miss a game if she could make it. He was mama’s little boy.”

A 911 dispatcher when she and Joe, a firefighter, met, Linda began substitute teaching at Hanover Central when Justin got into school. The Pellicori house was where neighborhood kids congregated, an open door to come and talk to Linda if they didn’t have another outlet.

“They absolutely loved her,” Joe said. “A lot of it spoke to her personality. That’s how she was.”

In April 2014, Linda was diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer. The disease took her life June 7, 2016. She had just turned 50.

“She was a fighter,” Joe said. “Everybody we talked to, they said six months. She really fought hard.”

Justin had continued to play travel ball, but never tried out for the high school team. This season, at Joe’s urging, he did.

“Being a senior, it crossed my mind. It’s time to grow up, work, get prepared for life after high school,” Justin said. “My dad kept telling me how it was something she would have wanted me to do. I can work every year after this. There’s no baseball after this. I did this year for her.”

There were days when Justin wasn’t sure he did the right thing, but he’s glad he’s seen it through. A pitcher, he has made the most of his chances, throwing nine scoreless innings over three appearances, allowing no runs and four hits, garnering two wins.

“It’s something I wanted to do, like a last hurrah my senior year,” he said. “It’s been a worthwhile experience. The team definitely helps. It helped take the pressure off, gave me somewhere to be, an outlet. Before (baseball), I would always find something to do keep my mind off it. Her passing pushes me to do my best. I’m out there for her. It motivates me.”
Joe is thankful for how well Justin, an only child, has handled the loss of his mom.

“He has a thought process much older than kids his age,” he said. “If he wasn’t as mature as he was, there’d be no way. He could have taken a destructive route. He gives it everything he’s got. He always has.”

Wednesday’s game with Griffith was a special afternoon. Hanover’s Michael Biegel and his mom, Emilee, coordinated a pediatric fundraiser to be held in conjunction with the game. Michael raised money independently last year and got the OK from Wildcats coach Ryan Bridges to tie it to a game. The teams wore yellow jerseys, a symbol of childhood cancer awareness, to mark the occasion. Emilee contacted Jon Lester’s NVRQT campaign run by Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, and the Cubs pitcher responded by sending an autographed baseball, which was raffled.

“We plan on doing it yearly and are hoping it grows,” she said.

To learn more about PCRF, visit: www.pcrf-kids.org.

Lake Forest 8U Team flexes it's NVRQT muscle!

Lake Forest 8U baseball team has dedicated its effort to raising funds and spirits of children fighting cancer!  They sold NVRQT balls and signed posters encouraging patients to Never Quit!  Those balls and posters will be delivered to their local hospital which happens to be Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago.  Go team!  Keep up the spirit and continue the rally cry...NVRQT!

Jon's Christmas 2012 message as appeared in The Boston Globe

Five years removed his own battle with cancer, Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester joined with the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation to launch the NVRT (Never Quit) campaign in 2012.  Among its events was a NVRQT Night at the House of Blues in Boston and with no time like the holidays to put things in proper perspective, we asked Lester to reflect on the first year of that experience.


By Jon Lester


"During our first NVRQT season I got to meet dozens of kids fighting cancer. In Boston, Seattle and Los Angeles, the Red Sox and our NVRQT team arranged for families to come to the game so I could meet the kids. What stood out to me the most about the entire campaign was the resilience of the children. The kids wanted to talk baseball not cancer. Their eyes were bright, their determination strong and their outlook on the disease was all about the battle to be won. That’s exactly what I remember from 6 years ago: How to get through treatment and beyond cancer.

It took me 5 years to get to the point that I felt comfortable going back into a hospital. Whenever we visit kids the smell of the place still brings back some not-too-pleasant memories, but meeting the kids quickly changes all that. We do love meeting the kids, signing some balls and telling stories.

My 5 year cancer-free mark coincided with my son Hudson’s birth and Farrah and I decided it was time to give back. After meeting so many kids and their families we also saw the look in their parent’s eyes. There is a worry so pure and a fear so deep that we knew it was something we never wanted to go through.

Our cause would become children’s cancer research. I had helped out the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation years ago and we decided every penny NVRQT raised would go straight to them. PCRF provides grants to researchers around the country who are working on better treatments and real cures that will change care around the world. I recieved a LOT of support from teammates and fans when I was sick and the words of encouragement meant a lot during some of those long days.

The NVRQT (never quit) message, delivered on a baseball (or a wristband or patch) gives the kids something to hold on to and inspire them to fight today and get back on the field with friends as soon as possible. I know of little league teams who have signed the balls for pals, classmates who have signed them for kids and families who get the balls and hold a NVRQT baseball game in honor of a struggling sibling. It seems that the message and the ball are really well received.

This coming season we plan to meet with more kids across the country, we’ll hold another NVRQT Day at Fenway over the summer and once again have a NVRQT Night at the end of the season with fans and my teammates. This first NVRQT season was a great start to what we hope will be a continued effort to make every day better for kids fighting cancer and raising the crucial funds for research in this poorly supported area of science.

Farrah and I want to thank all of our friends and fans who have supported NVRQT this past year. NVRQT is the attitude I brought to cancer and the same determination I bring to this cause and frankly my job. Together I know we made a difference in 2012 and that impact will only grow in the years to come. I’m really looking forward to the 2013 season and have high expectations for both the Red Sox and NVRQT. Thank you all and Happy Holidays!"

Learn more about Lester's work with NVRQT at  www.facebook.com/NVRQT  or www.pcrf-kids.org, and see his videos at  www.youtube.com/NVRQTforPCRF.