Twelve-year-old Nathan Bidi-Ohane runs the bases at Hadlock Field as players and the Sea Dogs mascot Slugger give him high-fives and cheer him on before the game Sept. 1. Bidi-Ohane was honored as an Anthem Hero at Hadlock for the courage he has displayed battling sickle cell disease at a young age. Courtesy of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield

Freeport’s Nathan Bidi-Ohane was recently honored as an Anthem Hero at Portland Sea Dogs’ Hadlock Field for his courage in fighting sickle cell disease. As part of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s continued commitment to supporting the prevention and treatment of cancer and the work of the Maine Children’s Cancer Program, the company has honored four Anthem Heroes this season, with 12-year-old Bidi-Ohane being recognized at the Sea Dogs game on Sept. 1.

“At Anthem, we’re honored to recognize the bravery and perseverance of kids like Nathan who have faced and continue to face significant health challenges at such a young age,” Denise McDonough, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine, said in a prepared release. “We’re fortunate to have the Maine Children’s Cancer Program in our state supporting these kids and their families and fighting to end childhood illnesses.”

A week after Bidi-Ohane was born, his mother, Sylvie Bokongonya, brought him to his pediatrician for his first appointment, where he was diagnosed with sickle cell disease. She brought him to a hematologist to be tested again, but the results indicated the same diagnosis. Bidi-Ohane began experiencing sickle cell disease crises and was admitted to the hospital nearly every two weeks, feeling exhausted and weak. Wanting better treatment for her son, Bokongonya decided to move their family to Maine to seek care from the Maine Children’s Cancer Program, where Bidi-Ohane is treated by Dr. Aaron Weiss. According to Bokongonya,

“(Weiss) does everything to help Nathan feel better every day with fewer crises,” Bokongonya said.

The Anthem Heroes at Hadlock program provides children who have battled a serious medical condition a once-in-a-lifetime experience at Hadlock Field. Each honoree takes a celebratory home run lap around the bases of Hadlock Field prior to a Portland Sea Dogs home game. The children and their families also receive other VIP privileges at the game.

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