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Tiger Baseball Team Visits Kids at McLane Children's Hospital

team presents Colton Pierce with signed baseball

On Thursday, March 28th, the varsity Belton Tiger baseball team toured Baylor Scott & White McLane Children's Medical Center in Temple, visiting with several children, signing baseballs and taking plenty of pictures.

The visit was part of the team’s annual Home Run 4 Health campaign, with 2019 marking the ninth year of participation. “Home Run 4 Health” is a fundraising program that has helped to provide needed donations to the children’s hospital.

“We’re a hospital built on the back of the community, so it’s very important that at every level we’re involving community members,” said Kelly Wagner, Child Life Manager at McLane Children’s hospital. “We’re really grateful to have the teenagers in our community supporting the children and teens here in the hospital.”

One of those patients is six-year-old Colton Pierce from Axtel, who was hospitalized for appendicitis and had an appendectomy.

“It’s awesome,” said Colton’s father Derek, about the Tigers visiting his son. “This is a step in the right direction because Colton hasn’t really been up to seeing visitors. So, to have a baseball team, something that fits him, it’s great to see some familiar faces.”

“It’s special when parents come out of the room and say thank you, and we appreciate your boys being here,” said head baseball coach Mark Krueger. “Unfortunately, we’re not able to play baseball our entire lives, so we have the players see a different side of life…and knowing they will go through struggles and how you can overcome obstacles just like kids we see here is a very special lesson.”

The players met with children of all ages, including infant Ryne Cope, who was born three weeks early and was recovering from stomach surgery. Ryne’s parents are part of the Belton ISD family. Allison is a Belton High School geometry teacher, and Brian Cope is Offensive Coordinator and Assistant Athletic Director.

“Very special when we found out they were going to be here today,” said Allison Cope. “It meant a lot because those are some of Coach Cope’s players. To see them with him, a little future Belton Tiger, it means a lot for them to come by, and not just for us but the other kids at the hospital.”

Cooper Babcock, Belton High School sophomore and Tiger catcher, says he felt inspired while spending time with patients.

“This is bigger than baseball,” Babcock said. “You can’t take things for granted. Going out to baseball practice we sometimes think, ‘oh, we have to be out here for two and a half hours,’ and kids we met today would love to go outside for that time.”

The fundraising aspect of “Home Run 4 Health” was underway at Friday’s Champion Children Night at Tiger Field during the gameagainst the Temple Wildcats. Champion Children from Baylor Scott & White participated in throwing out the first pitch, and money raised from t-shirt sales and donations will be presented to the Baylor Scott & White Central Texas Foundation

“It’s impacted us in a big way,” said Foundation Officer Rachel Clark, of the years of donations provided by Belton ISD and Midway ISD, who also holds its own “Home Run 4 Health” game. “Belton ISD has raised almost $2,000 every year, and we’re able to put that toward specific equipment that we need.”

In addition to raising funds, the Tigers are just as eager to promote the need for a facility like McLane Children’s hospital.

“Being able to have community partners who are willing to speak about McLane and be out in the community supporting us makes such a difference for us and children and families in this community,” said Child Life Manager Kelly Wagner.

Click here to see more great pictures.

Joshua Wucher
March 29, 2019