On April 5, a familiar voice joined the Scott Garceau Show with Jeremy Conn on 105.7 The Fan and revealed to listeners he'd be throwing out the first pitch at the Baltimore Orioles' game against the New York Yankees April 9.
Eleven-year-old Mo Gaba, a native of Glen Burnie, Md., was concerned about the reception he'd receive from Yankees fans at the game. Garceau and Conn assured him that wouldn't be an issue. "Yeah, stay out of our business and worry about your stupid Yankees," Gaba promptly quipped, eliciting laughter from the show's two hosts.
Gaba also commented on the spread of an NBA game -- "Are you kidding me? Vegas came up with that?" -- and predicted the scores of an NHL game and the Orioles' game that night.
Gaba quickly became a favorite of Baltimore sports fans due, in part, to his infectious energy and love for the Orioles after he started calling into the Garceau Show after school in 2015. Fans became familiar with his background; he had beaten cancer twice but lost his vision during the battle. This spring, Gaba was diagnosed with cancer for the third time in his life.
"When he found out he was going back into chemo, he told … our screen caller what was happening, and he was going to be pulled out of school and start these chemo treatments," Garceau said. "He said, 'Don't tell Scott and Jeremy until after I called because they might get choked up.' Here he is, he's going through all this, and he's worried about us getting choked up. It's so typical of what kind of kid he is."
Conn reached out to the Gaba family and encouraged them to set up a GoFundMe page so listeners can donate money to help absorb some of the expenses that come with fighting cancer. Donations can be made by visiting
. Nearly 700 people donated almost $29,000 in the first nine days.
Gaba was first diagnosed with cancer when he was 9 months old, according to his mother, Sonsy. Sonsy said she first noticed something was amiss when she was taking photos of him at a young age and noticed the photographs didn't produce the normal red eye, but rather, a white eye. Sonsy took Mo to the pediatrician to get his eyes examined, after which they were sent to Johns Hopkins. The next day, he was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer most commonly found in children.
Mo lost his vision when he was a year old, according to Sonsy, "because doctors were concerned that the tumors were going to spread beyond his eye and go to his brain. In one particular eye, the tumor [was] really, really bad, so they had to remove it."
The same cancer relapsed four years later, and now, Mo is undergoing treatments for the third time. This is secondary to the original cancer, according to Sonsy, and "where it is right now is in his legs, in his bones," she said.
Mo, a fifth-grader at George Cromwell Elementary in Glen Burnie, had to be taken out of school because his immune system is compromised due to chemotherapy treatments, according to Sonsy, who took a leave from work to care for her son around the clock. She hopes her son is feeling well enough to attend his promotion ceremony at the end of the school year, signifying his jump to middle school.
Sonsy said her son lives every day with the same enthusiasm that's infatuated local sports fans, even with the obstacles he faces.
"He is the happiest and friendliest little boy you will ever meet," she said. "It's rare that you see him down and not smiling, not laughing or anything like that. He's the happiest little boy."
Mo and Sonsy got a chance to experience Orioles Fanfest this January with Garceau and Conn. Mo was given a personalized Orioles jersey, met fans who recognized him, met Orioles players behind the scenes, and got a chance to interview center fielder Adam Jones and third baseman Manny Machado on stage as part of Fanfest's events.
"One of the best moments there was when he was interviewing Machado. We said, 'Mo, what do you want to see Machado do this year?' He said, 'Hit 50 home runs and not get suspended,'" Conn said. "The look on Machado's face was priceless. For him to get this opportunity to meet a bunch of Orioles players, to get out and meet actual fans, I think it was really cool."
Sonsy didn't know her son was calling into the Garceau Show until last fall, when she got a call from George Cromwell's principal, who alerted her Garceau and Conn were making a surprise visit to the school to speak to Mo and his classmates. Sonsy was at work when Mo was calling into the show and didn't hear anything from Mo about it until after she heard from his principal. However, she's made sure to tune in whenever he calls in now.
"I love it. I'm just taken back by it because he's just a pro at it. I'd be nervous to call into the radio station," Sonsy said. "He has a ball with it. It just makes me so happy that that type of stuff makes him happy and makes other people happy at the same time. It's crazy."