July 25, 2013
University of Minnesota pitching coach Todd Oakes and Golden Gopher student-athlete Jordan Jess were two of six to receive the Tom Walter Inspiration Award, announced July 25, 2013, by College Baseball Insider.
The award recognizes examples of inspiration in college baseball and is named for Wake Forest coach Tom Walter, who donated a kidney to freshman outfielder Kevin Jordan before the 2011 season. Walter was honored along with Georgia outfielder Johnathan Taylor and Arizona State outfielder Cory Hahn, both of whom were paralyzed during games in the 2011 season, and Bayler Teal, a 7-year-old boy whose battle with cancer inspired 2010 and 2011 national champion South Carolina in 2011, the first year of the award.
Gopher pitching coach Todd Oakes was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in June of 2012. Upon learning of his diagnosis, Oakes went through chemotherapy and spent 80 days in the hospital. After receiving a bone marrow transplant, Oakes was back with the team as the Gophers' pitching coach within the next season and is now in remission. Inspired by his story, Jess signed up to be a bone marrow donor and learned he was a match to one lucky individual in February, 2013.
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