UCF baseball team honors player who died of leukemia

By John W. Davis, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, May 01, 2017, 9:58 AM EDT

Last Updated: Friday, April 28, 2017, 10:55 p.m. 

The UCF baseball team is keeping the legacy of a teammate who died from leukemia alive through the power of pediatric research.

  • UCF Knights baseball team raising money for cancer research
  • Fundraiser honors Joe Skinner, Bishop Moore player who died of leukemia
  • So far the team has raised more than $32,000
  • RELATED: UCF's cancer fundraiser link

“At first, it was hard to know that he wasn’t out there with those boys," said Joe Skinner's mother, Judy Skinner.

That’s because Joe Skinner, who was a star baseball player at Bishop Moore High School in Orlando, was supposed to be a UCF Knight.

“To include Joe as a part of their family means so much to us because this is a place he couldn’t wait to go," Skinner shared.

“Joe was positive the whole way through his illness and he was always smiling and he always knew he was going to beat," Skinner's mother said.

“It’s really incredible. You don’t see a lot of families as strong as the Skinner’s are," said Brant Masters, who works as the Associate Director of the Vs. Cancer Foundation.

Although Joe passed away from a rare form of leukemia in 2016 before he ever played in college, the UCF Baseball team has not forgotten about him.

"He committed here when he was a freshman, before he even played high school baseball, and he never wavered. He loved the school. He loved being here and to see his name on the field, it’s great. It really helps," Skinner said.

They’ve become #SkinnerStrong, raising more than $32,000 to support cancer research.

“We never have a baseball team come in first year and raise this kind of money. UCF is now our largest baseball fundraiser this year, which is truly incredible," Masters said.

When the Knights took the field Friday night, every player replaced their own name on the back of their jersey with Skinner's.

So although Joe is no longer here, his impact lives on through others.

“It took a little getting used to but now for me it’s kind of a comfort place. It’s a place that if Joe were with us, this is where I would be," Skinner said.

Now that UCF Baseball has raised more than $26,000, the team's new goal is to raise $40,000.

The final donation to Florida Hospital for pediatric cancer research will be made in June.