Jonah’s inspiring fight comes to an end

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 15, 2014

By Chris Mackie
The Clemmons Courier

“Jonah.” In the most inspiring way imaginable, that name has now become eternally linked with the word “fighter.”
Jonah Hammett was an all-star competitor in every sense of the word ­— a rare young man who embodied courage and grit in the face of the most daunting adversity.
Last week when he passed away from brain cancer at the tender age of 14, Jonah left behind an enduring legacy of strength and determination to everyone who knew his story.
Diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at age 12, Jonah and his family battled the disease for two long years. Along the way, his upbeat personality and constant smile bravely masked the pain he endured through an assortment of surgeries and countless treatments. His plight, an up-and-down journey, became a rallying point throughout the community and spread far beyond.
After the seemingly dire prognosis was delivered two years ago, Jonah did what all great athletes do when faced with a challenge – he fought back. Displaying the same dedication and focus he showed on the ball field as a supremely talented shortstop and pitcher, he won those battles.
He returned to school. He returned to the baseball field. And along the way, he also returned the love and support he received by soldiering on – providing hope and inspiration to those around him.
Just one month ago, Southwest Forsyth Little League president Barry Leonard wisely chose Jonah to throw out the first pitch of the 2014 season. “Team Jonah” — the largest squad ever to take the field at Southwest ­— was also onhand.
The opening night ceremony was a runaway success, an unforgettable league-wide event that paid tribute to a young man who, through his unbreakable spirit, had given so much to so many.
Jonah was all smiles that night, a happy teenager who was obviously pleased to be among friends. He gave out fist bumps, posed for photos and, after taking the mound to a thunderous ovation, delivered a strike to the catcher. It was a pitch and a moment that will not be forgotten.
As news of his death spread last week, the Southwest Forsyth community prayed en masse — holding the Hammett family in the light while attempting to come to grips with the loss of one of their own.
There was a moment of silence before each game and the jersey worn by all teams was the same — a white Team Jonah t-shirt with the words “Walk in like Goliath and Fight Like David” printed on the back.
That show of unity illustrated the power of one. Though his stay in this life was brief, the impact of how Jonah Hammett lived that life will be lasting.
To some he was a son, a brother, a friend, a classmate, a teammate.
But to all he was a fighter.