It’s been almost one month since former West Hall baseball player Brian Ernst died from cancer, but celebrations of his life are still going strong.
The same day Steve and Donna Ernst will land in New York City for a Yankees game, a team of local residents will hold a benefit for the family.
The Ernsts will attend the season opener for the Yankees at the request of Yankee and former Georgia Tech baseball player Mark Teixeira.
Brian met Teixeira through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the two became instant friends. Since Brian died, Donna Ernst said Teixeira has made it his mission to spread Brian’s story and create awareness for the form of cancer Brian had, Ewing’s sarcoma, which is found in bone or soft tissue.
“We can’t express how honored, humbled and grateful we are,” Donna Ernst said. “We fly up there on Sunday; Tuesday is their home opener against the Angels. Every season (Teixeira) wears something under the bill of his cap. ... This season he’s dedicating to Brian, and he’s putting ‘Brian, Faith, No. 5’ on his cap for every game, and he wants to present us with the first hat at the end of the game.”
And if that’s not enough, there’s also a benefit concert back home Sunday at Wild Wing Cafe in Gainesville.
Former University of Georgia quarterback David Greene will be signing autographs and bringing items for a silent auction, and the NFL Alumni Association of Atlanta also will send some veteran players.
The event will feature local musicians Moby Dick, Alex Hall and Nate Currin. There also will be a pig roast and other food.
“We are hoping for about 300-plus people,” said Lisa Copeland, whose son Jake was friends with Brian.
Patrick Kelly, a friend of Brian’s, also is helping to organize the event.
“His personality, his whole being and spirit (drew me to him)” Kelly said. “A team of people found out that there was a need to ... help a family out that had gone through two years of hardship. This will be a celebration of life.”
For those unable to attend the event, donations can be made at any Regions Bank branch.
Donna Ernst said she already knows where much of the money is headed.
“Of course we want to give back to a cure,” she said. “There’s a sarcoma foundation that’s already started through Emory through a friend of mine in Brian’s name.”