ARLINGTON -- It was in 2012 that Ian Desmond, new to Twitter, reached out to a stranger asking for prayers. It was 19-year-old Ethan Brown, who was suffering from neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue.
From there, a friendship was born. Desmond was inspired to help raise awareness for NF the past four years, including before Sunday’s game when he presented the Children’s Tumor Foundation with a check for $16,000 and counting. Desmond pledged to donate $1,000 for every run he scored in May, which is NF awareness month.
“The closer I got to him the more I saw how it affected his life, so I learned more about the disorder and disease,” Desmond said of Brown, who is now 23. “I just realized how many people it affects and what kind of impact it has on your life. I’ve got three little boys myself. I can’t imagine a doctor telling me that one of my children or any future children would have the possibility of a disorder that is incurable at this particular moment. I just try to spread the word as much as I can.”
Desmond held fundraisers and awareness while with the Nationals, including a 2014 event that raised $40,000. He and Ethan, now 23, have remained close. They even share matching tattoos.