CHICAGO - The sky was blue and sprinkled with pillowy white clouds as a screaming cheerful crowd reacted to the action flowing on the field. But baseball wasn't the only thing drawing eyes and cheers to this crowd of nearly 25,000 baseball lovers.The Chicago White Sox honored Army Lt. Col. William Holstine of the 416th Theater Engineer Command as the Hero of the Game. The 29-year veteran served from 2002-2004 supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.He began his career in 1984 as a private and supply specialist. Two years later he entered the Army Reserve with the 863rd Engineer Battalion. A few years more he found his calling and contracted as a cadet in the Army Reserve Officers Training Corp. and soon became a second lieutenant.Holstine earned a master's degree in business administration and went to build a career as a financial advisor who managed more than $150 million in assets. He also provided financial planning to individuals and small business.His career progressed and wanting to serve the Army more he became an Active Guard Reserve Soldier and began building a career in operations. After his overseas deployment to Southwest Asia he returned and served as an assistant professor of military science from 2006-2007 at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill.All this determination and success doesn't prevent the unsuspected occurrence of a major health issue."In February 2013, I was diagnosed with stomach cancer while stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.," said Holstine. "The Army then transferred me to the 416th Theater Engineer Command in Darien, Ill., while I undertake treatment at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago."His daughter's softball team, the Aurora Area Girls Softball Association, learned of his medical condition and decided to recognize him during the "All-Star" game over the summer. They introduced him to the crowd, brought him onto the field and as a gift provided me 5 tickets to the Chicago White Sox game which were donated by the Chicago White Sox."Kailie came to us and addressed that her dad's illness had escalated from stage 3 to stage 4," said Coach Jose Rios. "Her teammates wanted to show support for her father so we did at the all-star game in July. This prompted the idea for him to be honored with the Sox."Carolyn Gerard, Holstine's sister-in-law, started the process by contacting the Chicago White Sox to have him honored at a game.
"Bill is wonderful father and husband. He's served his country. I've seen him at his lowest lows. This was a way to help him get through his illness by showing him he has support," said Gerard.She put forth effort to save her brother-in-law because he's always gives so much."His cancer wasn't going away and I have done a lot of reading and I've got him on some holistic treatment with alkaline diet and raw foods. He's doing better and he's feeling better. The support of people have made him feel uplifted," said Gerard.He is not cancer free and is still battling stage IV stomach cancer. In July he began a combination of medical treatments such as chemotherapy and alternative treatments such as a high alkaline diet, acupuncture, massage, chiropractor care and medical staff retests quarterly to determine his progress.What's this mean to Holstine to have so many people stress how much they care to see him honored in front of thousands?Holstine responds, "At first I was a little hesitant, but I thought about the big picture and it's really not about me, but more about recognizing all of our men and women who have served and continue to serve in our Armed Forces protecting our great nation. I guess I'm just the lucky one who gets to be here today to represent all of those true heroes...it's very humbling.""My family and I are having a great time, I feel so blessed. I want to express my sincere thanks to the Chicago White Sox and to all my family and friends who are here today celebrating this time with me and my family."Holstine's 14-year old daughter, Kaelie, responded about her father's newfound fame, "It's so cool that my dad was picked to do this. This is a great experience for me and for my entire family. I think it's amazing how much love, help, and support we have received by so many people since my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I feel like most people take this as a burden or tragedy, but I like to look on the brighter side of things. I take this as an eye opener. Also, I love that my dad is home more often. I'm so proud of my dad as he has been so strong for all of us, he is definitely my hero."