Sometimes, your fiercest rivals are those that live the closest to you, especially those within your own county. Growing up as a Hiltopper, I knew how important it was to beat the Litchfield Panthers, and with Kyle as a Lancer, he had some of the same feelings about the Nokomis Redskins.
|On the field, these teams may be rivals, but off the field, they're definitely teammates.
So, the county high school baseball tournament is always exciting. Every single player for all four county teams wants to be the ones that come out on top, and best their county rivals.
But for a few brief moments on Saturday, April 16, every player, from all four schools was on the field, and they were smiling. And we couldn't be prouder.
You see, this year's county baseball tournament was the culmination of a Litchfield High School Student Council fundraiser for Grace. Last winter, the Student Council sponsor Jo Brummet and her students set up a temporary license plate program with the state of Illinois. Participants could pay $30, and the plates would be valid for two months in the spring.
We opted to use the Princess Grace logo from the 5K event last fall, and each license plate could have four characters on it. Kyle and I were quick to decide that we wanted BEAT INAD on our two vehicles, but it was fun to see what everyone else chose. My mom and dad chose HOPE and PRAY, while Kyle's mom and dad chose EP28 (for a favorite scripture verse) and PAPA. Other family members chose LOVE, LOV3, BSBL and GLH 7. All total, I think they sold about 50 of the specialty plates.
|We LOVED our BEAT INAD plates!
I think the best part for me was driving around the county and seeing the plates, trying to figure out whose they were and what they stood for. And even though he lives out of state, Kyle and I ordered a set for the INAD researcher, Dr. Paul Kotzbauer, who already has his hanging in his office at Washington University.
|Grace couldn't wait to give Dr. Kotzbauer his plates.
As part of the fundraiser, the Student Council planned a culminating event at the county tournament and also sold T-shirts. I can't tell you how much I love all my Grace shirts, which now number more than a dozen. I practically live in them (so it's definitely a good thing I have so many!) And every time I see others wearing Grace shirts, I know they have a chance to raise even more awareness for INAD.
We really liked these shirts too, as they had the team logos for all four county teams on them, and all the school districts have done so much for us. We are especially looking up to the second annual "Step Up to the Plate for Grace" when Lincolnwood and Morrisonville baseball teams play each other this week.
|Grace and the Nokomis Redskins
|Grace and the Hillsboro Hiltoppers
|Grace and the Litchfield Panthers
|Grace and the Lincolnwood Lancers
Kyle's almost always a fixture at the county tournament, as he covers it for work, but Grace and I were excited to go with him this year, and share the experience with our families as well. Kyle's sister and her husband brought our nephew, and some of his cousins came too, and we always enjoy a chance to catch up.
|Jo Brummet presented us $2,000 for INAD research.
Shortly after we arrived, Jo Brummet and her son set up photos for us with each of the teams wearing their new Grace shirts. Then, when the first game was finished, we were invited onto the field with all the teams for a HUGE group photo and check presentation. We were blown away when Jo announced that they raised $2,000 for INAD research.
|Just chilling with her grandparents.
|Grace with the members of Kyle's family who came to the game.
It also gave us a chance to say thanks to the teams and coaches for their love and support, as we continue in the fight against INAD. Each team also signed a baseball for Grace and the Lincolnwood coach, Josh Stone, got a really cool display case for all four of them. Our next living room renovation includes some shelving to put all her autographed balls on display, which will be such a testament to the love and support of this community.
|Kyle and Grace show off her new display case and autographed baseballs.
We stayed for a bit of the second game before heading out to lunch with some of Kyle's family, and felt so blessed to be a part of a tournament with such history in Montgomery County. From Lancers and Redskins to Toppers and Panthers (and Mohawks too), it's truly been a special part of this Grace-Filled Journey. They may be rivals on the field, but off the field, they are ALL teammates in the fight to #beatINAD.