They may be rivals on the field, but on Tuesday night, the Lady Lancers and the Lady Hiltoppers shared much more than just their team colors of orange and black. Players on both teams showed they also had a special place in their hearts for our Grace.
|Grace brought her pink glove from Uncle Shane, so she was all ready for the game!|
As spring sports got underway in March, the Lincolnwood High School girls softball coach, Greg Neisler, asked Kyle if Grace could throw out the first pitch at a game this spring. Although Grace has four games lined up this spring, Greg was the first one to suggest it to Kyle. And we were thrilled.
After looking at the schedule, Kyle asked if she could do it when the Lady Lancers hosted the Lady Hiltoppers on Tuesday, April 14.
|Grace was so excited to get a softball signed by all the Lady Lancers from Hannah Russell.|
We left work a little early on Tuesday afternoon to head to Raymond, not really knowing what to expect other than that Kyle would help Grace make her toss across home plate. What both teams had planned next for us was such a fun surprise.
|The Lady Hiltoppers had a handmade purple bow for Grace, just like the ones the players wore in their hair during the game.|
Just before the game got started, Coach Neisler invited the three of us onto the field, explaining that in the 13-year history of Kiwanis Field, Grace would be the first one to ever throw out a ceremonial first pitch, something the team did not take lightly. We had no idea she would be the first one ever for such an honor.
|With a little help from her daddy, Grace threw out the first pitch to catchers from both teams!|
Coach Neisler went on to share our story with the fans of both teams, and then three Lincolnwood players presented Grace with a signed softball from their team, as well as a one-of-a-kind jersey, which included logos from both teams and her name on the back. Then he invited three Hillsboro players to the field, who presented Grace with a handmade purple ribbon, that everyone on the team sported during the game. They even made two for Grace because they know sometimes she wears pigtails.
Then it was time for the first pitch. Catchers from both teams took to home plate, waiting as Grace, with a little help from her daddy, made that toss. Tears sprang to my eyes as the pitch headed toward home plate, where I was standing, of course, taking lots of pictures.
|Beautiful orange and black balloons floated to the sky before the game started.|
We know there's a chance this may be Grace's only opportunity to play on some of our favorite teams, and the way these kids have embraced our Grace just left me speechless. And that's no easy feat, just ask Kyle.
But the teams had one more surprise up their sleeves. All the players from both teams came back out to the field with orange and black balloons for a special balloon release in Grace's honor. They also presented her with three princess balloons, which she absolutely loves.
As part of the festivities, the Lincolnwood concession stand had orange and black sugar cookies with Grace's name on them, which were sold for a freewill donation to the INAD study. Coach Neisler called Kyle later to tell him they raised $250 that night, and we are so very grateful.
|Grace's fan club - part one|
|Grace's fan club - part two|
We will gladly send the money to Washington University as part of the INAD study, but more than the money, we're glad for the memories and the opportunities. I tell Kyle we have been given a challenge to give Grace as many life experiences as possible in her lifetime. Having the chance to throw out another first pitch and be part of two really special teams is something we'll never forget.
|Our favorite softball player with Aunt Mikaela!|
Orange and black unite, and we'll forever be proud to wear those colors.