Fundraiser for Santos’ family successful

By DREW GRANTHUM / Sports Writer

HELENA — A fundraiser for the brother of former Pelham baseball star and current San Diego Padres draftee Trae Santos was held June 29 at Rio’s in Helena.

Tim Santos Jr., known as “T.J.,” was diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer in March while being stationed overseas as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army.

The event was hosted by local band 7 Stone Riot, and was the brainchild of Michelle Ellis, the mother of two of the band’s members, Whit and Tyler Millsap.

“The day they sent (T.J.) to Johns Hopkins, I racked my brain,” she said. “I wanted to do something.”

Ellis, whose family is very close with the Santos family, said her sons, who played baseball with Trae, also wanted to try and help the family with their medical bills.

“Reid (Aldridge, the band’s lead guitarist) went to the owner of Rio’s and asked if we could have a fundraiser there,” she said.

While the 29-year-old T.J.’s parents, wife and three children stay with him in Maryland, his brother is playing baseball for the Padres’ minor league squad in Eugene, Ore. Ellis said the goal of the fundraiser was to show the family that those in their hometown are thinking about them.

“When we found out T.J. had cancer, it was a shock,” she said. “He was a really healthy guy.”

In addition to 7 Stone Riot, the fundraiser featured Jessica Meuse, Sexy Tractor and Chico Jones. Ellis said Meuse came from Montgomery and Jones from Columbia, S.C. to perform.

“None of these people got paid,” she said. “They just came and did it. Everyone there was a volunteer. It blew my mind to see all those serving.”

The concert was able to raise around $4,000, Ellis said. While the money will help, Ellis said nothing will put those close to T.J. at ease but a clean bill of health.

“I can tell you they’re hoping for the best,” she said.