Naples Daily News Weekend Digest Miss something this week? Catch up on a few of our big stories in this quick digest

Teen with rare disorder granted his ultimate baseball wish

For Keegan Tutrow, a day at the ballpark was a wish come true.

Tutrow was born with Chiari Malformation, a brain disorder that causes the cerebellum — the portion of the brain responsible for voluntary muscle control, balance and speech — to grow into his upper spinal column. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, the disorder affects roughly one in 1,000 births in the United States. Genetics seem to be a factor for Chiari; Keegan's mother and sister also suffer from the disorder.

Tutrow, a 17-year-old from Greenfield, Ind., has already undergone more than 10 surgeries to his brain and spinal cord since age 8. He had a shunt implanted at the base of his skull to relieve the pressure caused by the buildup of fluid on his brain, which can be life-threatening because of the increased chances of aneurysm.

"It's a daily struggle with the migraines and the headaches and strokelike symptoms," he said.

Baseball became Keegan's way of shutting all that out. The name of his first T-ball team was the Red Sox. His allegiance carried over to the big league team.

"I started watching Red Sox games on television because of that and it just kind of stuck," said Keegan, whose favorite player is Dustin Pedroia.

Tutrow, who has only seen his Sox play in person once — during a trip to Fenway Park in Boston — and had never attended a spring training game, dreamed of the chance to meet Pedroia in person.

He got his wish this week. Thanks to the Wish Connection, a nonprofit organization sponsored by AT&T employees which provides once-in-a-lifetime experiences for children and teenagers with life-threatening or chronically debilitating medical conditions, Tutrow spent the week in Southwest Florida for the ultimate spring training baseball experience. It culminated with a chance to meet the Red Sox players and coaches and join them for batting practice before the team's Easter Sunday game at JetBlue Park against the Philadelphia Phillies.

As life returns to normal in Cuba, residents reflect on Obama’s historic visit and what’s next

A week after President Barack Obama visited his country, Roberto Hernandez sits with friends drinking a beer, now that life is back to normal here.

It was quite a week. Obama toured Old Havana with his family and met with Cuba leader Raul Castro. There also was a Major League Baseball game Tuesday with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rolling Stones performed a concert on Friday.

But things are quieter now as Hernandez visits at a cafe with his friends Juan Dominguez and Maritza Perez. The three relaxed, reflecting on Obama's historic visit.

Hernandez, a 52-year-old shoemaker, made a point of staying home last week to watch Obama's visit on television.

"I was interested in what he was going to say," Hernandez said. "I wanted to listen to it in his own voice, what he wants to do."

At an unprecedented news conference with Castro, Obama said the U.S. still has differences with Cuba in several areas, like freedom of expression, assembly and religion. And he said only Cubans can chart their future.

"He spoke well," Hernandez said. "It's true that the future of Cuba has to be determined by all the Cubans."

Conservancy’s popular sea turtle savors salt water freedom

With a final splash a few hundred yards south of Goodland among the Ten Thousand Islands, a young loggerhead sea turtle left a group of conservationists behind.

They waited, scanning the surface, as the turtle named Betsy dived under their boat.

"There she is," they shouted as she surfaced moments later, taking bearing of her new endless habitat.

The loggerhead had been kept on display at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida for the past two years, from the time it was just a few inches long and weighed less than a pound.

It was released Tuesday weighing about 40 pounds with an 18-inch shell. The turtle will work its way from the calm shallow waters proven to be a great feeding ground near Rookery Bay out through the Gulf and into the Atlantic, only to return some 20 years from now to lay her eggs somewhere along the southern Gulf Coast, said Nicki Dardinger, director of education at the Conservancy.

"She's been tagged so hopefully years from now they'll be able to scan her when she comes up on some beach," Dardinger said.

Ceremony showcases new additions to Greater Naples YMCA

The Greater Naples YMCA celebrated another milestone Tuesday with several long-awaited projects aimed at making local children happier and healthier.

The Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida and the YMCA embarked on a collaboration two years ago for the network to open a primary care center in the YMCA.

The new center is called the Nichols Pediatric Center after a longtime Naples resident, Jerry Nichols, gave an undisclosed gift to help with health care network's expenses for the program. The gift was used to redesign 5,400 square foot space in the YMCA building for the clinic.

The center will offer primary care and behavioral health care that is convenient for children enrolled in YMCA's early learning programs, which can help ease hardships for working parents. The center also will serve children from the community as a traditional pediatric practice.

The center will open April 18 and will be headed up by Dr. Todd Vedder, a local pediatrician who joined the health care network's staff two years ago in anticipation of the collaboration with the YMCA.

"It's been well worth the wait," Vedder said.

College basketball: FGCU women beat Michigan, headed to South Dakota for WNIT Championship

In their final game in the arena some have called home for four years, there was no way the Florida Gulf Coast University seniors were going to back down.

The FGCU women showed no fear in taking on a college basketball heavyweight in the WNIT semifinals, even when the power conference opponent landed some big blows.

In front of a record women's crowd, the Eagles survived Michigan's second half run in a 71-62 home victory.

FGCU's eight suited-up seniors — a ninth is injured — closed out their careers at Alico Arena on a high note, but they still have one game left to play. The Eagles leave early Friday and head to the University of South Dakota for the WNIT championship game at 3 p.m. Saturday on CBS Sports Network.

"It was a great defensive effort against a great offensive team," FGCU's first and only coach, Karl Smesko, said. "In the last three minutes, we just found ways to make plays and finally get some rebounds."

In five previous WNIT appearances, FGCU had never made it past the second round. In three NCAA tournament trips, the Eagles have won one game. After four wins in this tournament, setting a new Division I school record for victories (33-5), FGCU can send its seniors out with a WNIT championship.

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