Fayetteville’s Reed McCord is like any other kid, he wrestles, love to play baseball and he especially loves Arkansas Razorbacks sports. But two years ago, Reed, who is now eight-years-old, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
“When you have a son that’s six and you think he’s pretty much invincible and then there’s this chink in the armor. It’s very scary,” said Blake McCord, Reed’s father. “You think that without Insulin my son would die in a matter of hours.”
It’s a chronic condition that Reed was genetically born with, but he’s tougher than most kids, and has overcome the hurdles associated with it.
But Reed’s also found strength in his role model, Patrick Wicklander.
“He’s just really good at pitching and he’s really energized, he’s always ready to go. He’s never late for anything and he’s always ready to pitch and he’s always there when we need him,” Reed said of Wicklander.
The Arkansas starting pitcher was also diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last year. When Reed found out they share the same condition, he wanted to reach out to Wicklander. His father said he should write Patrick a letter, so Reed did.
“I just really wanted to ask him some questions and talk to him. And to be honest with you, I didn’t think I was going to get anything back from him,” said Reed.
Blake posted the photo on social media and it quickly blew up. Soon enough, it made it Wicklander through a friend sending it to him on Snapchat.
“I could just read the excitement as he was writing it,” Wicklander smiled. “It was really cool to see and read how (Reed) looked up to me.”
Wicklander immediately friended Blake on Facebook and the pair started working on scheduling a meeting between the two. He even sent Reed an autographed baseball. And while Reed looks up to Patrick, he admires his young fan just the same.
“He’s been a diabetic longer than I have. So he’s dealt with this longer,” said Wicklander. “Just knowing how strong he is, especially hearing that he’s kind of struggled with it. And seeing him now, the kid has the brightest smile on his face, like you can just see it.”
Reed was in the stands for Arkansas’ Friday night win against Florida, right behind home plate. He watched his hometown Hogs win the SEC regular season championship and enjoyed the fireworks show. He then went outside the locker room and waited well past midnight until Wicklander emerged.
He waited patiently as the star pitcher made his way through the crowd, signing autographs for fans, until Patrick spotted Reed and walked over to introduce himself.
Surrounded by eager fans, Wicklander carved a spot in the chaos for himself and Reed’s family to talk for as long as his biggest fan wanted.
McCord had a big question to ask. It wasn’t about how Wicklander throws his fastball or his chageup, but where he hides his insulin pump during games.
“In my back right pocket,” Wicklander said.
“I’m going to try that in my next game,” smiled Reed after getting the advice.
And the chance to meet his hero is something he will never forget.
“It was really exciting, I wasn’t expecting that to happen and I’m really excited and happy that I got that opportunity,” said Reed.
“(Reed’s) going to be a fighter and he’s going to be fine in life,” said Blake. “And Patrick has really helped show him that he can do whatever he wants to do if he puts his mind to it.”
And on the one thing on Reed’s mind is winning is U8 championship game in the Fayetteville Youth Baseball league on Monday… with his insulin pump hidden in his back right pocket.