Friday, April 20, 2012
Brewers fan sets his sights on 162 games
By Matt Lindner Special to ESPN.com
Ben Rouse has a new lease on life, and he's enjoying it by soaking up as much baseball as possible.
After beating leukemia for a second time with the help of a double umbilical cord stem cell transplant in 2009, 25-year-old Brewers fan Ben Rouse decided life is too short to spend it working.
So he did what countless working stiffs spend their days dreaming of doing -- he saved up a couple of paychecks and quit his job as an analyst at Tetra Tech, consulting and engineering. Then he decided to go to a ballgame.
One hundred sixty-two of them to be exact.
"I started seeing money show up in my [checking] account and I'm like, 'If I start saving, I might be able to do it next year,'" Rouse said.
The reaction he got from his boss, Tetra Tech vice president Bonnie Brandreth, wasn’t exactly what he was expecting when he gave her his notice.
"When he came to my office, I looked at him and said 'That's the greatest reason to quit a job ever,'" Brandreth said. "I was so impressed. It didn't strike me as ludicrous."
Rouse will be going on the road with the Brewers this summer, planning to attend every game -- home and away. Brewers chief operating officer Rick Schlesinger said the team would provide Rouse a ticket and a food stipend to every road game, as well.
"I wasn't looking to get anything out of it really. I was fully prepared and financially able to do it on my own," Rouse said.
He'll pay his own way for travel and lodging, and although the University of Wisconsin graduate has a bachelor's degree in economics, he'll practically be earning a Ph.D in logistics with all his travel arrangements.
"End of this month, I'm driving to St. Louis with my girlfriend. I'm staying with an aunt there," he said. "I'm flying out to San Diego, three games there. Then I'm flying to San Francisco, staying with a friend there, three games there, then flying back to St. Louis on a redeye to drive back to Milwaukee to catch a game that night."
His journey isn't all fun and games, though. The reason he's healthy enough to do this won't ever be far from his travels.
Rouse was diagnosed with leukemia in 2007. He beat it once, but had a relapse in 2009. Umbilical cord blood that he received through the Be the Match Foundation saved his life. Studies have shown positive results for cord-blood transplants, and in some cases the survival rate is higher than other therapies.
As part of his journey, Ben will blog about his travels while raising both money and awareness for the Be the Match Foundation.
"A former English TA said if I don't write a book about it, he's gonna kick my [butt]," Rouse said with a laugh. "We'll see how it goes."