Red Sox fever
Four-year-old Jordan Leandre has two favorite things—watching Red Sox baseball and singing the "National Anthem." So when he had the opportunity to combine the two, he was beside himself with excitement.
Two years ago, Jordan was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma—a cancer that occurs primarily in the bone or soft tissue—on the upper part of his right thigh. His parents brought him to Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Care for treatment, including several rounds of chemotherapy and two surgeries.
"Jordan's such an energetic little guy that we had to put him in casts after both of his surgeries just to keep him still," says Mark Gebhardt, MD, of Children's Department of Orthopedic Surgery. "But he's doing great and recovering nicely from his most recent procedure."
During his treatment, Jordan became all too familiar with the hospital, staying at Children's for a week, every sixth week of his initial 10-month chemotherapy regimen. It was also during this time that he discovered his love of singing, belting out "Proud to be an American" as part of the 7 West talent show.
But when asked what his favorite song is, he'll quickly tell you the National Anthem. "He sings it every night before he goes to bed," says his mother, Shelley.
"When we can get him to bed," his father, Ken, quickly adds. "Jordan likes to stay up as late as possible to watch the Red Sox." Hearing his dad mention the Red Sox, Jordan quickly begins naming off his favorite players, including Curt Schilling, Gabe Kapler, Tim Wakefield and Kevin Millar. "My favorite used to be Pedro, but he plays for the Mets now," Jordan adds.
Jordan first performed the National Anthem at his brother Andrew's baseball game. But word quickly spread about the then-3-year-old singing sensation. "The mother of one of the other players on the team was so impressed that she went to the Jimmy Fund and told them about him," says Shelley.
Through the Jimmy Fund's connection with the Red Sox, Jordan was invited to sing the National Anthem at Fenway Park on August 27, 2004, as part of the Jimmy Fund's annual radiothon. When asked if he was nervous before his big performance, Jordan simply says, "No, I wasn't scared."
"He's better in front of 35,000 people then he is in front of 10," says Ken.
When Jordan made his Fenway debut, still in the cast from his initial surgery, he not only charmed Red Sox Nation, but also one of the producers of "Fever Pitch," a feature film about an overzealous Red Sox fan, who just happened to be at the game. "We got a call from the producer saying they wanted Jordan to sing the National Anthem for the movie," says Ken. "We just couldn't believe it."
On Saturday, September 4, 2004, Jordan again sang the National Anthem before a packed house at Fenway, only this time a camera crew was also in attendance. The footage was later used as part of the opening day sequence in the movie.
"To see this little boy, who has been through so much, out there on the field, singing his heart out in front of the crowd and the cameras was really wonderful," says Shelley. "You never would've guessed he had been sick. It's amazing to think how far he's come."
"When I saw Jordan for the first time after having seen 'Fever Pitch,' I asked him if he'd brought his parents or his agents with him," jokes Gebhardt. "So many people at Children's—surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, pathologist and nurses—helped make that performance possible. It was truly gratifying to watch."
Jordan continues to do well, singing at local events on Cape Cod, where his family lives. And he still counts his copy of "Fever Pitch," which will be released on video later this month, among his prize possessions. "He'll sit and watch himself over and over," says Shelley. "And sometimes, he even sings along."