The Nixon Strong Baseball tournament brings youth teams together to battle cancer

Jun 7, 2024, 3:21 PM | Updated: 4:54 pm

SOUTH JORDAN — In South Jordan, the Nixon Strong Nixon Strong Baseball tournament is bringing teams together for something bigger than the game.

On Friday, the sun is out with a slight breeze. Add in the crack of a bat, and baseball: There is nothing quite like it.

Heading into day two of the tournament, on paper, 12-year-old Korver Johnson and his mom, Nikki, have the usual big day ahead. Korver is playing second base, and his mom is rooting him on.

One of the youth baseball teams practicing before their game.

One of the youth baseball teams practicing before their game. (KSL TV)

They will tell you this tournament, though, is different.

“Nixon was definitely one of my best friends. He’s just been my best friend, and so this tournament makes it so much fun for me,” Korver said.

The tournament is in its 5th annual year and is in honor of Nixon, a little boy who loved baseball and lost his life to cancer in 2019.

The Nixon Strong Foundation is bringing over 65 teams ages eight and under to 13 and under together.

“This is so much more than a game,” said Nikki Johnson, Korver’s mom.

Nixon playing baseball on the field. (Courtesy: Nixon’s Family)

This is eclectically true when you are playing with someone else in mind.

In addition to all money raised going toward the Nixon Strong Foundation, every team in the tournament is paired up with someone whose game on earth has ended, or with a cancer fighter.

Karver’s team they are playing for Paxton, who is up to bat against stage four neuroblastoma cancer.

In December 2023, Paxton was diagnosed with cancer that had spread into his lymph nodes, kidney, and bone marrow. But, that has not stopped him from stepping on the t-ball field.

“Gives him something to look forward to when he’s not sitting at the hospital. He was getting out there making plays and hanging out with his buddies,” said Josh Szem and Candice Washburn, Paxton’s parents.

Paxton wearing his team uniform and holding an umbrella. He is also battling against cancer after a 2023 diagnosis. (KSL TV)

Nixon’s mom, Janessa Whatcott, knows how support hits a home run every single time for families going up against their biggest rival yet.

“I hope that baseball teams just are able to connect with other kids and just realize how lucky they are to be out here playing the game that they love. And for the cancer kids, I hope they know they’re loved. Like, there’s people that care about ’em and they are cheering the on, and they’re not alone in the fight,” Whatcott said.

“It’s a great experience for both of ’em,” Candice Washburn added.

Paxton’s parents said Paxton has a bone marrow appointment on Friday. The tournament is still going Nixon Strong and runs into Saturday.

The tournament is already in the works for next year.

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The Nixon Strong Baseball tournament brings youth teams together to battle cancer