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Dunlap teen Finley Bishop meets with White Sox announcer Jason Benetti

Journal Star - 8/28/2017

Aug. 28--CHICAGO -- Finley Bishop got some major motivation when he met Chicago White Sox play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Bishop, a 12-year-old from Peoria now living in Dunlap, was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when he was 6 months old. Benetti also has the neurological disorder widely known as CP, which affects body movement and muscle coordination.

The conditions are caused by brain damage, which occurs before, during or after birth, according to CerebralPalsy.org. Approximately 34 million people have Cerebral Palsy worldwide.

"Some of (my challenges) are internal in deciding that I'm going to be me, rather than trying to be some other version of that, but also its perception," Benetti said of his experience living with CP. "Sometimes people will look at someone with a disability and think certain things. It's incumbent upon both them in understanding, and me in trying to help them understand that I'm just another guy."

In a 15-minute meeting, Benetti, who is in the process of taking over for iconic announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, and broadcast partner Steve Stone joked about Bishop being a Cubs fan and offered him a White Sox-themed Rubik's Cube. Benetti encouraged Bishop to go and do whatever he wants in life -- you are not defined by CP.

"First impressions don't last forever, even if you think they might," Benetti said. "Even if they do, you can't remember that. The best thing we can do is try to shatter them and be deeper than the first thing and then feel the same way about other people as well. That first judgment can't be everything because if it were, I wouldn't be sitting here."

Bishop loves all sports and his uncle, Eric Crowhurst, was determined to set up a meeting with Benetti. Crowhurst took to Twitter to try and get the word out, and when Benetti saw the tweet he was on board.

"When I was growing up, there wasn't somebody with a disability that I could say that I'm aiming to be that, or not even aiming to be because that sounds egotistical, but to say 'oh, somebody could actually do this,'" Benetti said. "Just being able to do that by literally standing here to help in that way is a remarkable thing."

Bishop watched the White Sox slug their way to a 7-1 win over the Detroit Tigers. Chicago starter and heralded pitching prospect Lucas Giolito earned his first career big league win after throwing seven shutout innings.

Bishop enjoyed his first major league game and is looking forward to the next, which he hopes is at Wrigley Field despite learning a valuable lesson from Benetti.

"(He said) when you're at your first game, you should be a White Sox fan," Bishop said.

Bishop plans on being the manager for the Dunlap Middle School basketball team. He also loves playing sports video games so Benetti encouraged him to broadcast games on his own while he plays. That's how Benetti started and carried it through high school by broadcasting Homewood-Flossmoor games and eventually for ESPN and the White Sox.

Bishop said he'd enjoy doing what Benetti does for the 81 home games, with one stipulation.

"Not a White Sox one. I'd be a Cubs (announcer)," Bishop said.

Benetti will take over full-time in 2019 for Harrelson, who continues to broadcast most of the team's away games and will retire from the mic following a very abbreviated schedule in 2018.

Bishop and eight family members and friends, including his dad, Tom Bishop, Crowhurst and Owen Rennette attended the game on "Family Sunday."

Go to pjstar.com/sports for a video of Bishop meeting Benetti.

Aaron Ferguson can be reached at 686-3207 or aferguson@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @Sports_Aaron.

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(c)2017 the Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.)

Visit the Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.) at www.PJStar.com

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