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PV baseball supports cancer-stricken teammate

Matt Hollinshead, mhollinshead@daily-times.com
Piedra Vista baseball player Bryant Elliott gets the number 12 shaved into the left side of his head Monday at La Dolce Vita Salon & Spa in downtown Farmington. The Panthers are showing their support for teammate Max McGaha, who was diagnosed with leukemia.

FARMINGTON – Piedra Vista baseball player Max McGaha is enduring the biggest battle of his young life right now after being diagnosed with leukemia earlier this fall, and some of his teammates found an unconventional way to show their immediate, non-stop support.

Rather than shaving their heads completely, multiple players shaved Max's jersey number, 12, into the sides of their heads today at La Dolce Vita Salon & Spa in downtown Farmington.

"He's like family to me," said freshman shortstop Jacob Kuhn, who's known Max since kindergarten. "It was bad (to hear he has leukemia). At the age of 15, it's horrible. Too young. He just wants to get back to the field, get back to doing normal stuff."

Bryant Elliott, a sophomore pitcher/left fielder on PV's junior varsity team and the son of La Dolce owner Katie Elliott, organized the event.

"I just felt I needed to help him out. It makes you think how little chance this could happen and affect your life," Bryant Elliott said. "We text a lot, and I just try and cheer him up. I miss him a lot. He just makes everyone laugh, and he's just a really cool guy."

Piedra Vista baseball player Jace Whalen gets the number 12 shaved into the right side of his head Monday at La Dolce Vita Salon & Spa in downtown Farmington. The Panthers are showing their support for teammate Max McGaha, who was diagnosed with leukemia.

Max is currently continuing his treatment in Albuquerque, but will eventually transfer to another hospital in a different city to receive a bone marrow transplant.

La Dolce will hold drawings for $1,000 worth of hair care products on Dec. 12. The proceeds will go toward a gofundme.com page created to help pay for Max's bone marrow procedure and other medical expenses.

If one would like to donate to help pay for the costs, go to gofundme.com/fight-with-max-mcgaha.

The goal is to raise $50,000 by New Year's, which is when the McGaha family will schedule Max's operation. As of today, $31,079 has been raised.

Going forward, teammates are holding their breath for a possible reunion with Max on the field this upcoming season.

"Sometimes if a player gets out, you just need someone to pick you up. He's that guy," Kuhn said.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.