NEW YORK A Fostoria teenager and a professional baseball player have forged a friendship that goes deeper than the sport they play.
Dugan Smith, an eighth-grader in Fostoria City Schools who pitched and played first base on a baseball team, and CC Sabathia, Yankees pitcher and former Cleveland Indian, teamed up Saturday during CC Challenge, a scavenger hunt in Central Park to raise money for Sabathia's PitCCh In Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting inner-city youth in New York and Vallejo, Calif., Sabathia's hometown.
The two became friends after Dugan, a cancer survivor, appeared on Anderson Cooper's show. Cooper surprised Dugan with a visit by Sabathia, his favorite baseball player, and Dugan was invited to join Sabathia on his personal team for the scavenger hunt.
Dugan and CC
Dugan, who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2008 and underwent rotationplasty, described Sabathia as an inspirational man who has impacted his life greatly.
"He's a really good guy," he said.
Sabathia described Dugan as an "awesome" and outgoing teenager.
Dugan Smith (left), a Fostoria resident, tries to figure out a chess clue with CC Sabathia (right) and CC Jr. in Central Park’s Chess & Checkers House Saturday afternoon.
Kathy Jacobson, public relations manager for Sabathia and his family, said Sabathia and his wife have fallen in love with Dugan. Sabathia and Dugan exchange text messages, she said.
"They're just darling," she said.
Jacobson helped arranged Sabathia's visit to meet Dugan on Cooper's show, which was a surprise for Dugan. Sabathia already had a connection to Ohio because he lived there and played for the Cleveland Indians.
"It was kind of a perfect blend of mutual love, I guess, and respect. ... This was a perfect fit," she said.
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The Sabathia family team, which included Sabathia, his wife Amber, son CC Jr. and Dugan, was one of 32 teams that competed in Saturday's scavenger hunt in Central Park. Dugan's parents, Dustin Smith and Amy Miller, also participated in the event.
"I think I had a good team," Sabathia said.
Each team was given a bag containing an assortment of gadgets, such as compasses and lights, and had to use the items and clues to solve eight riddles in Central Park. The event is designed to be overwhelming but not impossible, said Josh Wolak, director of events for Ravenchase Adventures, which organized Saturday's scavenger hunt.
"Most of it will overwhelm them," he said, prior to the event.
The objective was for the teams to solve as many of the riddles as they could within the three-hour time limit. The puzzles could be solved in any order.
"They're plotting their own course," Wolak said.
The winning team completed the scavenger hunt in two hours, 10 minutes. Dugan said his team got all the clues, which were tough, correct and finished in seventh place.
"It went really good," he said.
Dugan said it was fun getting to spend time with Sabathia's family and getting to know CC Jr.
"I had a really good time," he said.
Jacobson said Dugan, who is going to be taped on another episode of Cooper's show Monday, is open about his surgery and his experience, and it is exciting to see how he lives.
"I think he can help other people and other children. ... He's giving (children with cancer) hope," she said.