Former Castle View student stays positive despite two life-changing events

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LITTLETON — By Matt Doran's account, it had been probably three years since he had touched a baseball.

Still, the 20-year-old strode confidently to the pitcher's mound at Heritage High School, placed his right heel on the rubber and, with a quick flick of his right wrist, tossed out the first pitch before the Eagles' game against Regis Jesuit on April 20.

Where the ball wound up is insignificant. Just having Doran up on the mound was a victory in and of itself.

Not only is Doran a cancer survivor, having beaten Hodgkin's lymphoma when he was a freshman at Castle View High School, but he's also the survivor of a horrific snowboarding accident in 2009 that left him in a coma for three-and-a-half weeks and with permanent brain injuries.

“The only reason I am here today is because of God,” said Doran after the ballgame was over. “I was able to overcome cancer because of God and I was able to wake up from my coma because of God.”

Doran doesn't remember the accident that changed his life for a second time, aside from the date (Mar. 16, 2009) and location (Aspen). He says that's another gift from God, as he doesn't have to relive the accident over and over.

He does, however, remember quite vividly the chemotherapy treatments he underwent for his Hodgkin's disease.

“It made me really sick,” Doran said of the chemotherapy.

Doran was a special guest of the Heritage baseball team on April 20. They've made it a point this year to honor both those currently battling cancer and those, like Doran, that have overcome the disease.

“We have T-shirts that have names of people we know that have or had, cancer,” Heritage coach Scott Hormann said. “Seeing people like Matt is something that is so inspirational. To know the fight they've been through and specifically what Matt has had to overcome, it makes you want to keep fighting in whatever you do.”

Participating in the first pitch ceremony was the first step in what those close to Doran hope will be a path towards becoming a motivational speaker.

“Honestly, I think he'd be great at it,” said Shawnna Cook, who works with Matt at the Douglas County transition program. “He's a huge inspiration to all of us that work with him and I think he's got a great personality and a great story to tell.”

Doran, who has a contagious smile, as well as a great laugh and good sense of humor, says that he wouldn't mind speaking in front of others. If he does follow that path, he already has an idea of what his message would be.

“Stay optimistic and positive,” Doran said. “I think that makes a difference when you are trying to overcome something.”

Doran has proven his message of positive thinking to be true. Twice.