OAKLAND -- Jake Diekman was diagnosed with Ulcerative colitis at 10 years old, but that didn't stop him from achieving his dream of reaching the major leagues.
Now the A's reliever wants to help others who suffer from Inflammatory bowel disease, which can include Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. In 2017, Diekman and his wife Amanda created the Gut It Out Foundation.
"I was going through the first of three surgeries to have my colon removed, so we created the Gut It Out Foundation to support people with IBD, Crohn’s disease, and Ulcerative colitis, and just give them some sort of a resource," Diekman told NBC Sports California.
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This weekend, Diekman hosted 15-year-old Nathan Nichols at the A's-Giants game. Nichols suffers from IBD himself and won the Gut It Out Foundation's VIP Experience for being the top fundraiser.
Diekman flew Nichols and his mother out from Lenexa, Kansas for several incredible experiences, including a tour of Alcatraz on Friday, dinner with Diekman and his wife, and a conversation and game of catch with Diekman on the Coliseum field before Saturday's game.
"It's been amazing," Nichols said. "Best day of my life by far. ... (Diekman) is just a great guy. I love talking to him."
Nichols actually first connected with Diekman in Kansas City when the hard-throwing left-hander was still a member of the Royals. Diekman encouraged Nichols to join his foundation and it has worked out wonderfully for both parties.
"It's great," Diekman said. "He's everything that we created a foundation for. If bringing him out here can influence to help when he grows up and influence others, then that's perfect."
The feeling is certainly mutual. A high school pitcher himself, Nichols draws inspiration from Diekman's story.
"A lot of inspiration," Nichols emphasized. "I'm a pitcher, he's a pitcher. He has IBD, I have IBD. A lot of similarities between us and I think that's awesome."
After playing catch and getting some tips from Diekman, Nichols and his mother got to stay on the field to watch batting practice, followed by tickets to the game.
"Playing catch on the field (was my favorite part)," Nichols said. "It's not every day you play catch with an MLB pitcher. It's super cool."
Added Diekman: "It makes you feel really good. I know what it's like to have it when you're younger. You think it's a pretty big disability. You don't really know (if you're going to need surgery). You just want to be normal. So if they can look up to me in any aspect and say, 'Well he's pretty normal and doing what he loves,' that's the biggest thing."