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Little League kids and coaches look on as Colton Breeze, a Kemp seven-year-old, throws the opening pitch at the Texas Teenage Junior Midgets State Tournament at Coleman Park Monday. Colton, who plays for the Kemp Buzz, will undergo open heart surgery in Dallas today to correct his aortic stenosis.

Colton Breeze may someday be a famous athlete, but the seven-year-old’s baseball career is going on a summerlong hiatus starting today.

He’s been playing baseball since the age of three, when he started with the Mabank YMCA. He started playing T-ball and during the fall before getting into Little League with the Texas Teenage Baseball Association,

This morning, he headed to Dallas for open heart surgery.

Colton lives in Kemp with his parents, Michael and Kim Breeze, and his little brother, Case. He was born at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas on Sept. 25, 1999.

Almost immediately after he came into the world, a labor nurse found a problem.

Colton had aortic stenosis, a genetic heart disorder. His aortic valve — which controls blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta — developed as a bicuspid instead of a tricuspid.

What that basically means is that there’s a backflow of blood in his heart, because the valve is narrow.

“I was shocked,” Kim said. “We weren’t prepared for it at all.”

Aortic stenosis is most commonly found in males older than 65. The condition is operable, though it has a high mortality rate when untreated.

But Colton’s heart troubles haven’t held him up much. Despite needing to take monthly trips to a Dallas cardiologist for electrocardiograms, and despite having had heart surgeries at the ages of five weeks and four years, he’s a budding sports fanatic.

Primarily, it’s baseball. But he’s also an avid swimmer and go-kart racer. And for the first time this year, he tried his hand at kids’ football.

“If he has a choice, he’ll take baseball,” Kim said. “He’s our little baseball junkie.”

Right now, Colton plays for the Kemp Buzz. He’s been with his team all the way — 10 games in the regular season, three games in the April Spring Fling, two in May’s Super Series Tournament and a handful of others in the Tri Cities Tournament.

His only difficulty has been a slight decrease in endurance and focus in recent weeks.

“He played left field this year,” Kim said. “In the past, he’s played second base and left (field). He’s got a pretty good arm on him.”

He hit his first homer of the season on Father’s Day, June 16.

“I hit it all the way out to the fence,” Colton recalled. “I smacked it so hard.”

“It was a Father’s Day present for me,” Michael said.

The Buzz made it into this year’s TTBA state finals — with a record of 9-1 — to the delight of coaches and parents. Team coach Clint Conway said his kids were up against 11 other teams from across the state on Monday.

“I’m proud of my boys this year,” Conway said. “They’ve done nothing but get better all year long.”

Colton was asked to throw the opening pitch for the start of the Texas Teenage Baseball Association’s State Tournament Monday night at Coleman Field. Afterward, he received a signed baseball from John Warren, TTBA president.

“For him to go this far into baseball season, that’s pretty stout,” Warren said. “If that’s not what we’re out here for, we need to do something else.

“To me, that’s just the epitome of what youth baseball is all about.”

For the surgery, Colton’s aortic valve will be replaced with his pulmonary valve, ane he will receive a second replacement valve.

The operation will have to be repeated eventually, most likely in Colton’s early 20s, because his new valve won’t grow with his heart.

“We’ve known for a few years that this would be the procedure,” Kim said. “This will hopefully fix him up until he’s 21.”

When it’s over, Colton will spend three days in the intensive care unit, followed by another three days in the outpatient ward. After that, he’ll be sent home to rest for a couple of months.

“There’s six to eight weeks for recovery, which means no baseball,” Kim said. “No bicycles, no swimming in the lake. No weight-lifting, which we’re not there anyway.”

After his recovery, “he’ll be back to full strength,” Kim said.

Colton summed up the activities he plans to catch up on in one word.

“Everything.”

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email:dgordon@athensreview.com

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