By Jesse Vineyard/GCU Staff
Blue sky, scattered clouds, light winds, warm afternoon. Ideal weather to spend time outdoors. Perfect baseball weather as some would call it. Put them all together and you have a day to remember. For some children who have to spend their time indoors, a day like that means even more.
Last Saturday afternoon, the Grand Canyon University Club Baseball and Club Softball teams partnered with HopeKids to give those children and their families an opportunity to laugh, smile and simply play some baseball. The medical conditions the kids have fought through – or are still fighting – was put on hold in favor of an afternoon of fun.
“Baseball is America’s pastime,” Lopes’ junior first baseman Zach Broussely said. “There was a lot of joy in seeing the kids playing baseball, having fun and just being kids for a change.”
With nearly 30 kids on hand, the players went through the basics of baseball with them. Hitting off a tee, baserunning drills, catching and throwing drills and even a home run derby allowed the kids a chance to feel like a baseball player. To the kids, there was no difference between a major leaguer and a college athlete.
“It was a super cool feeling. [It was really] inspiring to see the kids, and know what they’re going through,” Lopes’ junior catcher Justin Horton said. “Just seeing their look on life was a great thing to be a part of.”
HopeKids is a national organization that puts on events and activities for children with any life-threatening medical condition. Their overall mission is to send a message that “hope can be a powerful medicine”. Throughout the afternoon, the players found it wasn’t just for the kids. With or without a personal perspective, the message of the day was in fact, hope; a belief that no matter the hardship, it can be overcome.
“When you’re dealing with something like that, it’s hard to smile,” Horton said. “But it’s truly amazing to see these kids forget about whatever they’re dealing with.”
This was also a chance to bond as a team. On the field, the competitiveness of one another is obvious. But that’s just one element to one’s personality. In order to understand someone’s full character, the importance of an event like this can’t be understated.
“It really gives us a chance to connect,” Broussely said. “I know a lot of us don’t always hang out outside the field, so to get everyone together at once without playing a game, it gives us a chance to build that extra relationship with each other.”
Even down to the players themselves, their own character can be molded. Both Broussely and Horton called the event “humbling.” Seeing what the kids were going through, maybe baseball isn’t the only thing worth fighting for.
“It gives you a sense of understanding and worthiness to yourself,” Horton said. “It makes you realize that it doesn’t matter what you’re going through. You can find your way in life.”