Through baseball and love, the Wilson man's heart in the right place ::

Through baseball and love, the Wilson man’s heart in the right place ::

– Brad Worrell’s heart is in the right place these days, whether it’s in Bailey, Wilson or the show in Fenway Park.

But his journey, as for his beloved Boston Red Sox, was not always easy.

During his 24 years, Worrell has seen his favorite team emerge from a major curse to win World Series titles. Worrell, born with a blow to him – a congenital heart disease called Tetralogy of Fallot – has formed lasting memories in the team’s home park, one of Major League Baseball’s enduring sanctuaries.

Worrell threw out the first pitch at a match in 2013, thanks in part to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Two months ago, he proposed to his now fiancée, Erica, in a fight.

It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball, just as it’s hard not to appreciate Worrell’s story of long-standing early predictions that he would hardly live.

Three months into his life, Worrell was already making headlines when he and his family had to travel to San Francisco for one 13-hour, experimental, open heart surgery in April 1997.

Through baseball and love, the Wilson man's heart in the right place ::

“Basically, I was not meant to live over three months old,” Worrell said. “The doctors basically gave me to my parents and were like ‘take him home and enjoy him while you can’.”

At 1 he had heart failure. The doctor told the parents that there were no guarantees for what happened after that.

Other feedback included that it was unlikely he would live past in his early 20s. Another open heart operation was necessary when he was 11 years old.

Worrell also had growth hormone deficiency, which forced him to take growth hormone injections to grow at a normal rate. Abuse of other children and isolation were two of the difficulties of growing up, even though there were apparently small potatoes compared to the uncertainty of what came next.

“I have always been told that I had a greater purpose in life,” he said. “I always stuck to it in the difficult times.”

Other trials have come. His father, Jason, died unexpectedly in November 2020.

“Before he passed away, he was everything a man would look up to,” Worrell said.

Worrell is a graduate of Southern Nash High School and grew up in Bailey, and enjoyed many of the things young boys do – hunting, fishing, quad biking and playing baseball. Farmland surrounded his childhood home in a classic rural setting seen throughout eastern North Carolina.

He now lives in Wilson and works in software sales. Worrell and Erica are planning a wedding in June 2022.

Worrell has started an outfit on social media with the goal of giving others with mental health problems a room to explore. Right now it’s called a Facebook page “Playing for the purpose.”

The site’s goal is simple – to help young people with disabilities and afflictions, those who face situations similar to what he had as a young man.

“I want to be a lawyer,” he said. “I want to pay it forward. I want to be the person I needed growing up.”

Worrell wants to ask people to embrace their differences and lean into their struggles, and see the beauty of the beast.

“I’m here to tell you that it’s good to be different,” Worrell said. “Everyone does not have to follow the same cake-cutting lifestyle, the cookie-cutter personality. Go and be yourself. Go and find your purpose. “

A number of fond memories came from the trip in 2013 when he remembered meeting his favorite player Dustin Pedroia (“we are both little boys”), going on the field and even signing an autograph. The Red Sox won the World Series that season. Worrell saw it in his youth in the middle of a golden age in Red Sox history.

When he proposed to Erica at Fenway earlier this year, there was another watershed in one of the more prestigious sports buildings.

Not bad for a guy who should not be here.

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