PEORIA, IL – The Peoria Chiefs have announced they are signing five-year old Rocco Johnson to a bench coach contract for Thursday, May 3. Rocco lives with cerebral palsy and is a huge baseball fan who will help manager Chris Swauger and staff as the Chiefs prepare to play West Michigan on May 3.
Rocco will be joined by his parents Shaun and Tori at a 2:00 p.m. press conference on Thursday, May 3 at Dozer Park, open to all media. At the press conference Rocco will sign his one-day contract with Chiefs GM Jason Mott and manager Chris Swauger. Doug Pinter, the owner of Anytime Fitness in Peoria and a representative of the Front Nine Foundation, will also be on hand as he got the ball rolling on this event by connecting the Chiefs front office to Rocco and his family.
Rocco will take part in all of the Chiefs pre-game practices and events. He will have his own Chiefs uniform and help the coaching staff during batting practice and infield. He will hang out with the players pre-game in the clubhouse and dugout and help them prepare to take on the Whitecaps in the series finale. Rocco will be joined at the game by his supporters, known as Rocco’s Ninjas.
Cerebral Palsy is considered a neurological disorder caused by a non-progressive brain injury or malformation that occurs while a child’s brain is under developed. CP primarily affects body movement and muscle coordination, reflex, posture, balance and muscle control.
Rocco goes through daily exercises to stretch his calf muscles and strengthen his legs and ankles. In the past he has experienced Botox therapy, serial casting and medicines in an intense physical therapy regimen with his neurologist Dr. Morgan.
The Chiefs will host an online auction on Gesture Auction during the Thursday, May 3 game with game-used and autographed items from current and former Chiefs players including a Stephen Piscotty item from his 2017 rehab stint. Fans can register to bid by visiting www.Chiefs.Gesture.com or by texting CHIEFS to 52182. The money from the online auction will go to Front Nine Foundation and fans can make a donation even if they don’t want to bid on the auctions. Front Nine Foundation is a local charity who’s mission is to provide support to families and children in the Peoria community by helping to offset the financial burden of medical bills and lodging. Fans can purchase tickets to the game at a special online link (https://groupmatics.events/event/FrontNineFoundation) with a 30% of the ticket money going back to Front Nine Foundation.