CHICAGO -- Following a shutout thrown against Oakland on April 23, Jake Peavy departed the Bay Area and returned to San Diego for the night to say good-bye to his former coach and close friend Darrel Akerfelds.
Akerfelds had been battling pancreatic cancer since being diagnosed approximately 19 months ago after undergoing back surgery, but his fight appeared to be coming to a close. Yet, after that visit, Akerfelds still made it another two months through sheer will and determination before succumbing to the disease Sunday afternoon.
"It's been inspiring," said Peavy of the fight shown by his friend. "To get the news he had given to him, he knew the percentages, he knew what he was up against.
"Just the attitude he kept. This guy was laying on his death bed sending me texts, encouraging me after a bad start. It was amazing to me.
"His friendship meant the world," Peavy said. "He was a little bit of everything to me: he was a dad, he was a brother, a mentor and a best friend there in San Diego. It has been a tough last 24 hours. I didn't get a lot of sleep last night. I knew things were headed south."
In conjunction with the Jake Peavy Foundation, Peavy put together "A Day with Jake Peavy" charity raffle with proceeds from this unique fundraiser benefiting Peavy's Foundation and Pancreatic Cancer Research. This idea was originated in honor of Akerfelds, who maintained his job as the San Diego Padres bullpen coach while he valiantly battled this illness, and was also dedicated to Peavy's maternal grandmother, Dama Lolley, and her own cancer battle.
This raffle raised more than $50,000. The winners, Terry and Lynn Iker, were selected on June 12, which also happened to be Akerfelds' 50th birthday.
"I'm happy we ended the raffle on his birthday," Peavy said. "He made 50 years old. He was excited about the raffle and the money we raised and that we were doing it in his honor. He was a little shy and any attention he received. He's in a better place and he's not in the pain he was in last night."