TAMPA, Fla. - For most teenagers, competing at the top of their sport can be the biggest challenge they face in their high school years, but for Braden Cecil, winning the 2020 Casey Most Valuable Male Golfer award came in second.
In August of 2020, he was diagnosed with stage 4 renal failure. A routine eye appointment turned into a blood test led to the diagnosis.
"When I first heard it, I was petrified," Braden Cecil recalled. "Why am I here? What am I doing?"
He took immediate action to change his diet and get put on a transplant list. Currently, his kidneys are operating at 25%. He is thankful he has the game of golf to take his mind off waiting for a transplant.
His father, Jamie Cecil, encouraged his son in golf.
"It's a blessing. He's played golf all of his life," James Cecil shared.
Braden Cecil is a senior at Steinbrenner High School and the game he has been playing since he was 8-years-old has become therapy to keep him focused on something other than his kidneys.
"Whenever I feel stressed, I come out to the golf course and hit some golf balls. It really helps me relieve that stress that I have and puts me in a better place overall," he said.
All of that focus paid off on the greens as his golf game dramatically improved.
"My mom told me I was going to a scholarship thing and I saw coach there and asked what I am doing here, and he said I won, and I said, ‘Oh that is so cool,’" expressed Cecil.
He attributes his winning the award to his hard work and dedication to practice, a sentiment echoed by his father.
"He's put the work in. He's put the time in," Jamie Cecil said.
"As a freshman, my scoring average was a 48 and I worked for my four years, so now as a senior my scoring average is 38. So it was a 10 stroke difference over four years," explained Braden Cecil.
Braden Cecil is planning to attend the University of South Florida next year with aspirations to practice and become a walk-on for the men's golf team.
If you or someone you know wants to see if you are a match for Braden Cecil you can call the Living Kidney Donor Program at Tampa General Hospital 813-844-5669 and give them Braden's name and birthdate, December 2, 2002.
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